Over the last century, genetic changes have occurred affecting the entire face. It’s getting smaller. Studies from titans like Drs. Westin A. Price and Frances Pottenger have given us a framework of questions to ask today. Drs. Kevin Boyd and Marianna Evens are digging deep to see exactly what happened since then. The basic thesis questions for all but Dr. Pottenger are: What is the etiology of malocclusion, and why so much decay? The Dr. Pottenger questions: How does a poor diet affect cats and can that be translated to human populations?
What Price and Pottenger found over a century ago is that oral and systemic diseases were a disease of industrialized food. Price traveled the globe to visit cloistered societies that had no outside contact and observed and logged the amount of decay and malocclusion in those groups. He found almost none. In communities that had outside contact for a year or more and introduced to the “foods of commerce” as he named it, dental decay became a problem in the adults and malocclusion became a problem in children – across the globe.
Dr. Pottenger raised his 900 cats on different diets and found physical degradation in the adult cats fed the processed food. More processing equals more problems. He listed problems from skin and eye issues, to a decline in sexual interest and fertility problems. He also called out malformations of the cats’ faces, particularly, the undecalcified zygoma.
Epigenetic forces are apparent in Drs. Boyd and Evens work looking at changes in the skeletal remains of fetus and infants as industrialization took hold. The face is becoming smaller. It’s believed that poor food growing methods and overly-processed foods affected facial growth. Soft foods don’t require chewing and imprints on DNA histones which is passed on to children and grandchildren. The requirement for chewing further reduces the size of the maxilla and tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If the tongue cannot reach the palate it cannot expand and the avalanche of issues and compensations begin to tumble.
An orofacial myofunctional therapist (OMT) is trained to identify issues of the soft tissue in the snoring complex, the nose, the mouth – including the tongue, and the back of the throat. The OMT will work with the soft tissues to help increase the size of the maxilla and encourage mandibular growth. They help dentists see the value in lowering their tolerance of the tongue-tie, and tori of the maxilla and mandible.
Not addressing these issues leads to the most varied list of health problems known to Man. Without intervention, the airway is the affected. Lack of or poor airway function increases inflammation, which leads to physical issues from poor glucose management and eventually diabetes, to periodontal disease and cancer. Thyroid issues to brain fog. The whole list is far too long to explore here.
No one will argue that growing children need air all day every day. Without it—for instance, nighttime snoring or mouth breathing—the brain cannot form fully. It’s difficult to tell if a child has ADHD or sleep apnea: The symptoms are too similar. Children who don’t sleep cannot function in school and misbehave to stay awake. Just because their eyes are closed doesn’t mean they are sleeping. Sleep disordered breathing interferes with the part of the brain where decisions are made.
OMTs are adept in helping children and adults improve obstructed airways. After all, a C-PAP or even a dental sleep appliance is just another pill. Orofacial myofunctional therapy provides new neuromuscular pathways which retain proper function. It also offer simple fixes like teaching proper nose blowing and gargling to open the nasal airway by shrinking tonsils and adenoids.
Soon you’ll agree that OMT is OMG awesome for your patients, your reputation as being a cutting-edge oral-systemic practice, and your referrals.
Shirley Gutkowski is the Primary Practitioner and Owner of Primal Air, LLC OMT and Breathing Retraining. You may contact her at 608.318.2800 or visit the website at www.primalair.com, PrimalAirOMT@gmail.com.