My 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics. The conventional approach would be to wait until she gets older, then use braces to straighten her teeth. Some orthodontists would even recommend extracting some of her teeth to make space for the remaining teeth to be straightened.
Problems with Braces
The main reasons why we are not starting with braces are:
Braces do not work in the long term. My husband had braces as an adolescent. At the end of using braces, his teeth were straight. However, now as an adult, his teeth are slowly moving back to their original positions. So the braces made them look better for a time, but in the end they are reverting back to being crooked. This is a well-known phenomena, known as orthodontic relapse. Nowadays it is a common recommendation that retainers need to be used for the rest of life after braces, to prevent relapse of the teeth into their original positions.
Braces do not go to the root of the problem, which is that the jaw is not large enough to accommodate the teeth. Rather, braces just seek to straighten the teeth to make them look better. When there is not enough room for all of the teeth, perfectly sound teeth are often removed prior to the installation of the braces. I want my daughter to be able to keep all of her teeth!
With braces, we would need to wait until my daughter was nearly done growing to get started. That means that we would have missed out on many opportunities for jaw growth.
Thinking Beyond Just Straight Teeth
Yes, straight teeth look better than crooked teeth, but there is a larger goal than just having straight teeth. Years ago, when I read Weston A. Price's monumental book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, one of the cases that made a huge impression on me was the story of a sixteen-year-old boy who had Down's Syndrome (which was referred to as being mongoloid during Price's time).
"This boy at the age of sixteen was infantile in many of his characteristics and developments... he had a mentality of about four years... He played on the floor with blocks and with rattles like a child. ... I determined to widen his arch by moving the maxillary bones apart about one-half inch. The position of his teeth before the moving of the bones is shown in Fig. 126.
"...With the movement of the maxillary bones laterally, as shown progressively in Fig. 126, there was a very great change in his physical development and mentality. He grew three inches in about four months. His moustache started to grow immediately; and in twelve weeks' time the genitals developed from those of a child to those of a man, and with it a sense of modesty. His mental change was even more marked.... In a few weeks' time he passed through stages that usually take several years. At first, he got behind the door to frighten us; later, he put bent pins on chairs to see us jump when we sat down, and finally he became the cause of a policeman's coming to the office from where he was conducting traffic on the corner below to find who it was squirting water on him when his back was turned. He developed a great fondness for calling people over the telephone, wanted to borrow my automobile to take his mother for a drive, and with his arm caressingly about the shoulders of one of the secretaries, invited her to go with him to a dance. All this change developed in about twelve weeks.
FIG. 125. These views show physical changes in the mongoloid type due to movement of maxillary bones to stimulate the pituitary gland in base of brain. Left, front and side view before, center, front and side view in thirty days. Right, front and side view six months after. Aged sixteen, infantile before, adolescent after operation. (Image from Project Gutenberg)
"A most remarkable event happened in connection with this procedure. He lived in another city, and so, while with me, stayed in a boarding house at a little distance from my office in order that he might have frequent, and almost constant attention. On his return to his home town, his efficiency had increased to such an extent that his mother could send him with the money to the grocery store with the order for the day's groceries, and he could bring back the right change and could tell when it was correct. He could also come alone to me ninety miles by railroad and make two changes of trains and the various transfers on the street cars of the city with accuracy and safety."
FIG. 126. These x-ray pictures show the position of the teeth before operation to move maxillary bones; and progessively, by the dates shown, the widening of the upper arch.... The space was retained with a fixed bridge carrying two additional teeth. (Image from Project Gutenberg)
This case illustrates that the size of the jaw can have a very large effect on the brain. Because I had read Weston Price's book previously, when I noticed that my daughter's baby teeth were crowded, I knew that I wanted to find a way to help her jaw grow larger.
While my daughter does not show any signs of delayed development, I certainly want to give her every opportunity to grow into her fullest potential. So rather than using braces to just straighten her teeth, I would much rather that my daughter's upper and lower jaw actually grow larger to accommodate her teeth.
In the next post of this series, I will discuss alternatives to braces that work by encouraging the jaw to grow to make room for the teeth.
Did your teeth experience orthodontic relapse after braces? Have you read Weston Price's Nutrition and Physical Degeneration?
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