Teeth Alignment: ‘Rooted in Lifestyle, not Genetics’
How it relates to your facial appearance, breathing, digestion & overall health
Let me ask you a question. How many times do you chew your food before swallowing? Uhh …Yea, I know. Let’s see, am paying attention while scrolling through my phone? Probably not. Does drinking a protein shake while busy at work count as chewing? Nah… but at least it was a healthy option, right? I feel like if you’re not multi-tasking while eating, you are simply starving or rushing through it to get to the next important thing.
If you had to really think, you most likely didn’t consume many foods in the past week that required even moderate effort to eat. Balance can be difficult, but it is important to be aware of these poor habits and learn to take small steps to change your lifestyle for good (and it is all FREE!). The data below will surprise you and hopefully will help you to analyze not only how you eat and breathe, but also any young children/grandchildren in your life, as you could make a profound impact on their health forever.
Despite how frenzied and strained our lives can be, we are rightfully giving more attention to healthier lifestyles and diets. “Eating the entire rainbow,” having proper macronutrient ratios (think carbs, proteins, fats), and a better understanding of gut-health are fundamentally important. But improper chewing and nasal breathing techniques are likely causing inefficient nutrient absorption and could lead to chronic health conditions such as sleep apnea, oral health conditions, and neck/jaw pain, for example. So, let’s ask the question:
Why make the gut work hard when the jaw and its musculature were meant to do that work?
Most of the time, people aren’t even aware they are “mouth breathing” – let alone that they are ineffectively chewing their food – because we are able to get by as our foods are soft or highly processed. Over-cooking vegetables is a good example of having good intension but missing an important element! More often enough, our fast-paced habits can take precedence over mindful masticating (chewing).
To provide hard evidence of this hidden pidemic, crooked teeth are a sign of poor jaw development, and can set the tone for future oral health problems. Today, seven out of 10 children have crooked teeth, whereas before the Industrial Revolution the ratio was one in 20.
“Our jaws are shrinking,”
says Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., a famous evolutionist, confirming that jaws of modern humans are smaller, with more malocclusions, and more teeth impaction, compared to earlier humans. Not only that, but the hunter-gatherers’ skulls also had more teeth! The likely causes of our shrinking jaws include eating soft foods, moving indoors where allergens are more concentrated, mouth-breathing, and worsening posture for bone development. “There’s not been enough time for evolution over the span of only several generations to have made our jaws shrink,” said Ehrlich. “Nor is there any evidence of selection pressures that would have favored smaller jawed-people producing more offspring- and thus perpetuating the trait- than regular-jawed people.”
So how are we supposed to chew?
In general, I think of it as you are sitting the way your grandparents were most likely expected to be at the dinner table:
- Sit up straight (hips ‘stacked’ under ribs)
- Ideally feet both flat on the floor
- Elbows off the table & looking ahead
- Lips together comfortably
- No talking while eating
- Chewing 20-30 times (until food is almost liquefied)
- Holding teeth lightly together, pause for a second or two, then swallow
For children, a good routine can be to start the first 2 minutes of every meal to chew as described 15-20 times before swallowing. Even as adults, making a point to put down distractions to be more mindful of how we are physically eating can make so many incredible benefits despite that our jaw bones are already matured.
So how are we supposed to breathe?
- Mouth closed, teeth slightly apart
- Tongue, the whole tongue (as best possible) on the roof of your mouth.
- Tip of tongue should rest behind your teeth gently, as if you were pronouncing the letter “N”
- Inhale through your nose quietly (if you hear noise, it means you using your neck or “accessory muscles” which is very inefficient)
- The abdomen expands first, then the chest. Think of it as you have 360 degrees of area to expand upon (not just front and back, but East & West)
- You don’t want to feel your neck working. Why? The bottom of the lungs is where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged with the blood. The diaphragm will get a lot of use, which prevents it from becoming tight and/or dormant. – There will be less use of secondary respiratory muscles, and therefore less chance of neck pain, headache, shoulder pain, and back pain. – Posture improves because of all the above.
For those of you who love a quick video, like I do, to truly visual the information, please check this out. There are also more specifics on why the structure of your face changes:
Here’s a quick & VERY effect way to open your nose to improve your execution of nasal breathing on a permeant basis:
My hope is to uncover the benefits of nasal breathing, proper tongue posture and proper mastication to maximize one’s health in the most simple and practical way possible. It is truly amazing how such small adjustments can add up to so many positive changes throughout your body for a lifetime. Here’s a summary of some of the medical advantages:
Proper mastication allows food to be liquefied which aids in better digestion, gut health, nutrient absorption- salvia has enzyme to break down fats when chew slowly, jaw strength, weight loss (brain signal to say full), nasal breathing & proper tongue posture promotes usage of the diaphragm vs accessory neck muscles for better lung efficiency and less tendency for forward head posture, muscularly supporting the maxilla (roof of mouth) against the effects of gravity and maximizing body structures of the skull into late adulthood ultimately positively affecting the cosmetic appearance of the face, filters and warms air that protects lungs and regulates the air for best temperature for digestion, regulates the proper balance of carbon dioxide in our system, produces nitric oxide for improved circulation, specially blood vessel dilation which can help prevent strokes or increased blood pressure.
I wish we all had been taught this since the beginning, but we have a chance to rewrite the future. Ideally, we can intervene with the very young children in our lives quickly to make these small changes. Parents and caregivers, in collaboration with holistic dentists as needed, will work as a team to avoid some serious health issues in the future.