30 FOCUS - APRIL 2018 port perry dental centre 238 Queen St. - Port Perry - 905-985-8451 www.iluvmydentist.com Dr. J. Cottrell Dr. J. Hardy Dr. C. Banfield Dr. J. Isenberg 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards PORTPERRYSTAR 2017 Readers’ Choice Awards PORTPERRYSTAR Is Our Modern Diet Creating Health and Dental Issues? Well, it doesn’t appear that evolu- tionary history bears this theory out. Our jaws shrank to modern human size about two million years ago, when we differentiated from the other primates. We didn’t begin suffering from mod- ern tooth decay until the Agricultural Revolution, 10,000 to 14,000 years ago. Crowding, malocclusions and im- pacted wisdom teeth started two hundred to three hundred years ago, during the Industrial Revolution. Basically, we had our new, big brains long before wisdom tooth and bite prob- lems occurred. There is no evolutionary advantage to our dental issues. This is both good and bad. Good, because we can still be both physical and intellectual superstars. One does not come at the cost of the other. Bad, because the fact that all these changes happened in our most recent evolutionary past is very troubling. And it appears that it’s all because of our modern diet. Anthropological evidence shows that it’s taken only a few generations of eat- ing soft, processed and mass produced food to make our wide array of dental problems not the exception but the norm. And these problems include not only tooth decay, impacted wisdom teeth, and crooked, crowded teeth. That might be a small price to pay for all our advances. Unfortunately, there are bigger conse- quences. These also include our ability to breathe, metabolize oxygen, brain devel- opment, posture, face shape, and even longevity. We are currently experiencing an epidemic of modern health problems like sleep apnea, ADD/ADHD, asthma, type II diabetes, etc. We have learned that the growth of our faces, mouths, jaws and airways are determined not just by genetics, but primarily by the very muscles that allow us to chew, swallow and breathe. That old saying “if you don’t use it you lose it” holds true for our craniofacial develop- ment as well. Traditional orthodontics, particularly in North America, has focussed mostly on tooth straightening for pleasing esthetics. This has meant waiting for most of the permanent teeth to erupt, around age twelve, and then dealing with the nar- row, malformed arches with extractions and braces. This might create beautiful, straight teeth, but keeps the jaws and airways small, while maintaining the poor muscle tone and posture of our chewing, swallowing and breathing muscles. Most importantly, because most of our craniofacial growth is finished by age twelve, waiting until this age wastes the precious time that could have been used to encourage proper muscle function and tone, leading to optimum jaw and airway growth, as well as tooth alignment. There is a growing awareness that it’s time to move into a new era of airway centered orthodontics, where correcting breathing and tongue and facial muscle functions not only allow our faces, jaws and teeth to grow as they should, but could also avoid exacerbating some of our modern health problems. As well, it could minimize the need for heavy duty braces or extractions. So, what could we do to turn this “de- evolutionary” trend around? Let’s learn from past generations. Instead of reaching for that soft, pro- cessed convenience food, let’s choose heartier, harder “real” food that actu- ally requires some chewing and gives our muscles a job to do. Our faces and mouths, just like our abs and triceps, need a good workout. Let’s give our babies real food to be weaned on, not pre-packaged, squeezable pulp that they just swallow. Let’s watch our children for telltale signs of poor muscle function or posture like mouthbreathing, thumbsuck- ing or snoring, and have them see an airway orthodontist by age four or five, when there is still lots of time to redirect growth. Better growth for teeth means better airway growth. Bigger airways mean more oxygen for the brain, and bet- ter performance at sports, studying, and life in general. Let’s recognize that it’s never too late, and that addressing snor- ing, mouthbreathing, or crooked teeth and bad bites as adults can still make a huge difference to our esthetics and our health. Let’s be those smart and healthy su- per specimens that we were meant to be. Dr. Barbara Frackowiak is a certified orthodontist who has been practicing in Durham Region for the last twenty plus years. She is passionate about Airway Centered Orthodontics. This is the first of a series of four articles. Remember the old sci-fi premise was that we are evolving into intel- lectual giants with huge skulls and brains, but tiny faces and bodies? Is that what is happening? Have our bigger brains been achieved at the cost of smaller jaws? Is that why most of us have either impacted or missing wisdom teeth along with crooked, crowded teeth and bad bites? Dr. M. Dhillon, Periodontist Dr. Barbara Frackowiak