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Monday, May 9, 2011

Looking for a good orthodontist? My recommendation is Dr. Meat

The figure below is one of many in Weston Price’s outstanding book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration showing evidence of teeth crowding among children whose parents moved from a traditional diet of minimally processed foods to a Westernized diet.


Tooth crowding and other forms of malocclusion are widespread and on the rise in populations that have adopted Westernized diets (most of us). Some blame it on dental caries, particularly in early childhood; dental caries are also a hallmark of Westernized diets. Varrela (2007), however, in a study of Finnish skulls from the 15th and 16th centuries found evidence of dental caries, but not of malocclusion, which Varrela reported as fairly high in modern Finns.

Why does malocclusion occur at all in the context of Westernized diets? Lombardi (1982) put forth an evolutionary hypothesis:

“In modern man there is little attrition of the teeth because of a soft, processed diet; this can result in dental crowding and impaction of the third molars. It is postulated that the tooth-jaw size discrepancy apparent in modern man as dental crowding is, in primitive man, a crucial biologic adaptation imposed by the selection pressures of a demanding diet that maintains sufficient chewing surface area for long-term survival. Selection pressures for teeth large enough to withstand a rigorous diet have been relaxed only recently in advanced populations, and the slow pace of evolutionary change has not yet brought the teeth and jaws into harmonious relationship.”

So what is one to do? Apparently getting babies to eat meat is not a bad idea. They may well just chew on it for a while and spit it out. The likelihood of meat inducing dental caries is very low, as most low carbers can attest. (In fact, low carbers who eat mostly meat often see dental caries heal.)

Concerned about the baby choking on meat? At the time of this writing a Google search yielded this: No results found for “baby choked on meat”. Conversely, Google returned 219 hits for “baby choked on milk”.

What if you have a child with crowded teeth as a preteen or teen? Too late? Should you get him or her to use “cute” braces? Our daughter had crowded teeth a few years ago, as a preteen. It overlapped with the period of my transformation, which meant that she started having a lot more natural foods to eat. There were more of those around, some of which require serious chewing, and less industrialized soft foods. Those natural foods included hard-to-chew beef cuts, served multiple times a week.

We noticed improvement right away, and in a few years the crowding disappeared. Now she has the kind of smile that could land her a job as a toothpaste model:


The key seems to be to start early, in developmental years. If you are an adult with crowded teeth, malocclusion may not be solved by either tough foods or braces. With braces, you may even end up with other problems (see this).

22 comments:

Anne said...

My son has overcrowded teeth. His wisdom teeth were also impacted and had to be removed. BUT my son has never had any dental decay ever and he's now 22 years old ! His dentist and the facio maxillary surgeon who extracted his wisdom teeth both marvel at how good and strong my son's teeth are ! I put his strong teeth down to several years of breast feeding. So, what I'm trying to say, is that no tooth decay and still overcrowded teeth ! The reason we've done nothing about the overcrowding is that my son has ASD and he would not have been able to cope with braces and stuff like that - he's still handsome regardless of VERY crooked teeth :-)

Greg said...

It is curious to show Weston Price's evidence without discussing his conclusions on the matter: that tooth decay and crowding have the same cause: dietary deficiencies.

Stephen at Whole Health Source had a post with some actual evidence that food toughness might impact tooth development (not just speculation).

Peggy said...

My daughter's family had crooked teeth all around. I discovered Weston Price before my daughter started eating solid foods. I started feeding her meat and liver and bone broths. Her teeth came in perfectly straight. She's five now and they're still straight and large. It's true. Weston Price was a genius for discovering and researching the link between diet and dental health.

Glad you wrote this article. The word needs to get out!

Ned Kock said...

Hi Anne and Peggy, thank you for sharing your experiences.

Ned Kock said...

Hi Greg. Indeed, Price’s emphasis was on the nutrients; and the nutrients do matter. The more recent empirical evidence seems to point at chewing tough foods as a key factor as well.

H. said...

Ned, that is super that the ancestral foods helped your daughter so much. What a delightful success. :)

Have you heard of any middle-aged folks having crooked teeth, jaws, facial bones, or any other bones, improved due to eating without phytates, NADs, etc., and only eating ancestrally?

Thanks very much for your blog. I'm enjoying reading.

Ned Kock said...

Hi H. I’m not aware of any evidence suggesting that malocclusion can be corrected after the jaw and teeth are fully formed.

Pete B said...

Sarcasm alert!

But what about the "toxic environment" that "the experts" say is the cause of these western diseases we're suffering from? Wait a minute ... those old Finnish skulls. Bit of a problem there ... I know! It's the ancient Finnish paradox!

So you're saying we should eat meat to have good teeth when we die of heart disease ... ?

end of sarcasm

Nice post! Well done.

H. said...

Ned, thanks very much.

Ned Kock said...

Hi Pete, thanks. A few MDs I know would probably agree with the tough foods premise, but might suggest adding statins to the meat for the babies as a “preventive” measure ;-)

Andreas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ned Kock said...

Spam comment above deleted.

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Diana Dickert said...

Did human evolution cause the modern man to change his diet? Well, Asians are known to be "rice eaters", while Westerners have protein-heavy diets. If meat is the way to "exercise" the teeth, then we've got more chewing to do!

Dr Glen Shanock said...

Today, orthodontic treatment is simple, convenient, and affordable for patients of all ages. And an attractive smile is just one of the benefits. Orthodontic treatment results in correctly-aligned teeth that provide ideal jaw function and a great smile! Additionally, your teeth are easier to clean and more resistant to gum disease. Perhaps most importantly, orthodontic treatment almost always provides improved self confidence.

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Elfrieda Sevigny said...

Little do we know that our teeth are the root cause of a lot of health problems. From cavity to tooth decay, and from headaches to chronic illnesses. This is actually true! This is why it's very important to have healthy teeth.

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