Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Enjoy a small snippet from Dr.Susan’s book, “Brave Parent- Raising Healthy, Happy Kids Against all Odds in Toady’s World”.
Our contemporary ancestors, only 300-500 years ago, had wider noses, straight teeth, and broad, flat palates – in the shape of their flattened tongues. They had, flat-out, bigger mouths, complete with plenty of room for their wisdom teeth to erupt.
Deviations from that picture are so common today that we have come to accept them as normal. In fact, the majority of children in industrialized countries have Early Childhood Malocclusion (ECM), typified by abnormal jaw growth, alignment of teeth, and bite. You already know this to be true, judging by how many kids get braces during adolescence. But ECM develops long before puberty.
There have been many contributing factors to this shift, and they involve early childhood development Spoiler alert … these factors are primarily environmental, not hereditary, or evolutionary. It has to do with the introduction of things like pureed baby foods, soft processed foods, baby bottles, and pacifiers.
In the history of the human race, changes in the head/face shape, as well as #malocclusion (abnormal jaw growth, malalignment of teeth, and bite discrepancies) have happened in the blink of an eye. They are the result of nine associated oral dysfunctions.
Breastfeeding (or lack of)
Airway obstruction (including enlargement of tonsils and adenoids)
Soft tissue restrictions (including lip and tongue ties)
Habitual mouth breathing
Oral resting posture
Oral habits (like pacifiers, fingers, and thumbs)
Lack of chewing real food (versus swallowing pureed food)
Dysfunctional muscles (called #OralMyofunctional disorder or OMD)
The complex tasks of chewing, swallowing, and even “resting” your tongue are repeated in-utero and committed to muscle memory through the first years of a child’s life – when their bones are completely malleable and rapidly developing. The habitual muscle functions of the tongue and face actually form the shape of the mouth and airway starting at five weeks in utero and extending to about six years old.
Muscles create competing forces. Imagine a pushing war. The cheek muscles are always pushing inward, especially on the upper jawbone. If left to themselves, they would constrict the upper jaw and cause a narrow palate with a high-arched roof.
But along comes the big, strong tongue. Hopefully, it is resting forward and high in the palate, so as it functions, it continually presses the upper jawbone outward (both crosswise and forward). Optimally, the shape of the hard palate becomes a mirror image of the top of the tongue: broad and flat!
A roomy tongue-box gives the lower jawbone room to expand, so it also grows forward and laterally. Together, these generous, U-shaped arch forms allow for the eruption of well-aligned teeth, a broad smile, and little need for orthodontic treatment.
Plus, our ability to form a generous tongue-box, uncluttered nose, and spacious posterior pharynx, sets the foundation for a lifetime of better breathing.