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Why no paleo babies with full dental arch?

by (3268)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:12 PM
Created March 14, 2010 at 3:40 AM

This is a little out of left field, but why have we not seen any babies from a paleo couple that had the full dental arch that Weston Price talks about?

Ryan has been posting some very interesting stuff on fixing malocclusion during adulthood:

http://ryan-koch.blogspot.com/2010/03/adult-palate-expansion.html

But paleo dieting has been around for a while. Why has there never been a paleo couple (that we know of) who has given birth to a child that has been able to get full palatal development?

Maybe these kids are out there... but I have never heard of them.

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4258 · October 15, 2011 at 8:25 PM

My future bride and I plan on raising our children Paleo. She's also going to be a naturopath, so we'll mainly be using natural remedies. The more I read stuff like this, the more I am curious for what our possible children's health will be like.

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3180 · September 23, 2011 at 6:53 PM

This summer I saw some native american skulls in Utah that were sveral hundred years old. What amazed me were the teeth. Perfectly aligned and widely arched. They were also worn down to nubs, but without a hint of decay. I can't imagine a modern person with teeth so worn, it seems you'd have a toothache in every tooth, but somehow I doubt the owners of these old teeth had toothaches. Also, all of the skulls had wisdom teeth that were full-grown and straight except the skull of a juvenile--that one had wisdom teeth half-grown, and not as much wear on other teeth. Check out some old skulls

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3217 · September 23, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Seriously, to add to my comment, this is really intriguing. My 9 year old sister, who developed early puberty, was a really good eater, then got picky, and then expanded her eating again as she neared the onset of menses. Fascinating.

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3217 · September 23, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Interesting about the growth phases. Puts my anxious mama mind at ease to know that my picky eating 6 year old (who used to be a really good eater) is entering a less important growth stage!

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4754 · September 23, 2011 at 4:31 PM

A few possibilities 1) don't underestimate epigenetic effects of nutrition on skull/skeletal development 2) typical paleo does not mean optimal nutrition. I regularly see paleo diets that are deficient in magnesium, selenium, iodine, various b vitamins, zinc, possibly K, A and definitely D (though folks are getting better with the D by and large) Until we're either eating whole animal (rather than just liver and muscle meat), we're not getting all that we need for optimal development.

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10919 · May 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

That part of the book seemed extremely suspect to me. I mean, really... it's a chromosomal disorder. I could see widening the palate helping the appearance of someone with downs but reversing it? It was only one patient.

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1409 · September 26, 2010 at 11:32 PM

Agreed, I don't think this is something you can re-convert in one generation depending on the health of your lineage.

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45 · June 25, 2010 at 2:11 AM

Oh! and one other thing--I just read someone about mentioned palate expanders, and I remember a really interesting case Dr. Price wrote about in his book about a boy who was mentally and developmentally retarted, but after his palate was expanded to the proper width, and fitted with a permanant expander to keep it there, he basically recovered and was perfectly healthy. I wonder why this sort of treatment isn't used more commonly? Or maybe I've just never heard of it!

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1165 · June 22, 2010 at 12:03 AM

Upvote. I was just about to mention epigenetics. We are "paying for" out grandparents dietary habits and some argue that the change in gene expression can be three generations deep (so great grandparents).

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4163 · June 21, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Congratulations on the upcoming rugrat, he/she is really lucky to have such a great nutritional head-start!

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462 · March 17, 2010 at 7:04 PM

Great link! My lower jaw is a total mess and I've wanted to do something like this for years. I'm going to see if there are any dentists in my area that do this.

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623 · March 16, 2010 at 1:34 AM

I looked up full dental arch as I wasnt quite sure what it was. I believe that I was lucky enough to be born with one. Never had braces but have very straight teeth. Ill have to ask my Mom what she ate when pregnant with me. Her dad was a hunter so I wouldnt be surprised if it wasnt alot of organic venison, turkey, quail and pig and I know that they had a garden in their backyard. Im of Russian and Italian background.

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78417 · March 15, 2010 at 10:51 PM

This discussion is really interesting to me- I had never heard of this before even though I had four children.

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3268 · March 14, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Tim, Best of luck with the prospective, proper, paleo, pedal-pumping pup!

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13993 · March 14, 2010 at 5:56 PM

I love that this question has come up!

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4553 · March 14, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Thank you for the link and for starting this conversation. See my answer below.

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18 Answers

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4553 · March 14, 2010 at 5:46 PM

Stephan has a great summary and expansion on Weston Price's study of dental health here:

http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/search/label/dental%20health

My wife and I are expecting our first child in mid April, and have been diligent to feed properly, hoping to achieve just this and all the other proper health benefits of Paleo nutrition. It may take generations to reverse the epigenetic course we've been set down. Both my wife and I have narrow dental arches, crowded teeth, wisdom teeth requiring pulled, narrow faces with poor nasal/sinus passages, and all that jazz that 2 generations raised on grains, sugars and veggie/seed/grain oils has given us. Luckily our grandparents on both sides were farm raised kids from birth with what amounted to a Weston Price style diet with the advent of modern foods only coming into play during our parents' upbringing, here's hoping the damage done is somewhat reversible.

It is so remarkable to look at a person today with broad chin, cheekbones and HUGE gracefully arched jaw lines. Big straight teeth gleaming out from a perfect face. Rare to see locally, but when I do, it JUMPS out at me. Usually inquiry brings out that the person is ignorant of what got the them there, but are often farm kids from traditional families.

Regardless of our success in growing a proper human (and many more years before we are done), this nutrition and lifestyle is the legacy I hope to give the little guy.

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1165 · June 22, 2010 at 12:03 AM

Upvote. I was just about to mention epigenetics. We are "paying for" out grandparents dietary habits and some argue that the change in gene expression can be three generations deep (so great grandparents).

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4163 · June 21, 2010 at 8:16 PM

Congratulations on the upcoming rugrat, he/she is really lucky to have such a great nutritional head-start!

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3268 · March 14, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Tim, Best of luck with the prospective, proper, paleo, pedal-pumping pup!

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56596 · March 14, 2010 at 3:52 AM

I actually don't know of anyone who has done a paleo pre-conception, pregnancy, and nursing. Perhaps me in the future? Although I worry it may take several generations to get our genes working to their full potential.

I do know several families in the local Weston A. Price chapter have children with full dental arches.

Weston A. Price attracts more reproductively oriented people it seems. The local paleo chapter is primarily singles and nobody has children that I know, whereas Weston A. Price has lots of married women starting families.

The only person my own age I've met with a full arch was my old Swedish roommate whose parents ate a traditional diet rich in liver, blood, and milk fat. But then again I don't go asking everyone about this...I just noticed his teeth were really straight and I asked him if he had ever had braces or wisdom teeth removed.

Another anecdote: I have a relative who has been vegan for several decades. He is in pretty good shape, but his child who is my cousin has terribly crowded teeth, even worse than mine. Sometimes inadequacies in diet don't come out until the kids...

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1409 · September 26, 2010 at 11:32 PM

Agreed, I don't think this is something you can re-convert in one generation depending on the health of your lineage.

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7967 · September 23, 2011 at 6:53 PM

I'm 26, 'paleo' for 2 years, and my fiance and I are planning to have a baby in the next couple years. I'm sure I'll find a way to 'discuss' (more like brag about) my future child's development on paleo hacks, so stay tuned.

The paleo movement is relatively new after all. In a few years I bet parents who have been in it since before they gave birth will be reporting on the bone structure of their paleo kids.

My mom has beautiful broad facial bone structure and teeth, my dad and I while narrow-faced have big mouths and pretty teeth (I do have an overbite and U shaped arch but my teeth are straight and my wisdoms are all in), and my fiance and his family have wonderful teeth and mostly very broad, strong faces - so I'm hoping our kid has a good chance at a classically well-developed face and C-shaped arch. I'm storing up nutrients for him/her as we speak.

Ever since I read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration I've been fascinated with facial bone formation and teeth. The faces of my mom and her sisters are a perfect illustration of the theory: my grandmother had her daughters when she was 22, 23, 28, 32, and 34. My oldest aunt, my middle aunt (5 and 6 year gap between sibs on either side), and my mom (4th child, born after 6 year gap) have broad, strong cheekbones, jaws, and noses (they hate their wide nose bridges of course) and perfect teeth and bites. My two other aunts, who were born respectively a year and two years after older siblings, before grandma had time to recover nutritionally, have narrow faces, pinched noses, tiny jaws, and very crowded teeth (lots of extractions).

My own siblings and I are also typical, though we had more of a disadvantage than my aunts due to my mom being a Jane Brody fan, also from genetics from my dad's side. I am the oldest and have the nicest teeth, most space in my mouth, and most developed cheekbones; my middle sister, who was born a year and a half after my mom a]had a full-term pregnancy which b]resulted in a stillbirth and intense grieving (which I am sure wasn't great for her eating) has very little cheekbones, small jaw, receding chin, teeth that are fucked in every way possible (overbite, browded, crooked, soft, plenty rotten already at the ripe ago of 20); and my littlest sister, born 26 months after that, has just okay teeth.

Proper child spacing is vitally important, IMO, even with the best possible nutrition. Even CW understands that pregnancies less than two years apart are suboptimal both for mother and child. Luckily, even if I didn't believe 3-4 years was a good spacing between siblings simply for nutritional/physical development reasons, I have always had a fondness for larger spacings due to my own memories of my sisters as babies and my horror at the thought of having two babies/toddlers in diapers at one time (had enough of that as an older sister and babysitter).

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2633 · March 17, 2010 at 5:01 PM

"Although I worry it may take several generations to get our genes working to their full potential."

"...here's hoping the damage done is somewhat reversible."

Thankfully, there is no need to worry. Just as the ills of a poor diet strike a generation immediately, the benefits of a proper diet will effect a generation immediately. The genes are always there, they just need the proper nutrition to activate.

On a population level it may take some time to get the word out, but on an individual level all the prospective parents have to do is start eating properly for themselves and their children.

As for children, it looks like there are three growth phases: pre-natal and breast feeding stage (which is dependent on the mother's nutrition), age 1-6, and age 11-17. Even if you've missed all or part of an early phase, it doesn't necessarily mean it's too late for them. Kids are incredibly resilient, far more than adults and of course there are no shortage of stories of amazing results in adults.

All in all, I think there is plenty of good reason for optimism. Best wishes all.

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3217 · September 23, 2011 at 4:35 PM

Seriously, to add to my comment, this is really intriguing. My 9 year old sister, who developed early puberty, was a really good eater, then got picky, and then expanded her eating again as she neared the onset of menses. Fascinating.

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3217 · September 23, 2011 at 4:33 PM

Interesting about the growth phases. Puts my anxious mama mind at ease to know that my picky eating 6 year old (who used to be a really good eater) is entering a less important growth stage!

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3743 · October 15, 2011 at 9:32 PM

What? My parents weren't SAD but they weren't strict paleo either, they pretty much home cooked everything though, ate real fat, eggs, meat, etc. I was born with straight teeth and a nice defined cheek bones and butt chin at least according to my wife (she would hate to admit she married a troll so she's obviously biased) and my dentist (a guy) who when I was young asked me what I ate and said I had beautiful teeth. My sister on the other hand I called her snaggle tooth she was second born 3 years after me right about the time my mother started working again; third born sister had the snaggle as well; both sisters had dental work. Dad always refused to eat what he called "crap" referring to the vegetable spreads, etc. I never had a cavity. My mother though was into the low-fat stuff after I was born. Growing up sisters always said I had a big head and horse teeth, I think I grew into though. I was breast fed. One of my sisters was on soy and has gut problems already at the ate of 22. My other sister I'm not sure about but she has thyroid issues.

My wife had straight teeth as well (she's Norwegian). She has a broad face more so than mine. Both my Mom and Dad had perfect teeth as well.

why-no-paleo-babies-with-full-dental-arch?

I have to track down some pictures of my sisters... it's interesting because as my mother's diet declined you can see how the shape of the skulls changed.

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4163 · June 21, 2010 at 9:31 PM

One of the important things that Stephan outlined in his Malocclusion series was the importance of tough chewy food.

I had a fairly standard upbringing except that we ate butter not 'spread' and I was breastfed until age 3(!).

I seemed to be getting crooked teeth when I was young but I would chew on anything tough, pens were demolished much to my teacher's disdain. I even gnawed on my hairbrush! I was always had a compulsion to chew on something non-edible for some reason.

By the time I hit puberty my teeth were perfectly straight (albeit very weak and prone to cavities). People always ask if I had braces. No one else in my family has teeth as straight as mine:

Here's a bad pic: http://i872.photobucket.com/albums/ab285/0021539/teeth.png

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78417 · March 18, 2010 at 2:11 AM

Well I don't have any photos due to the sudden death of my laptop, but when my second son was at the dentist as a child, the dentist recommended that I have four of his teeth pulled out to make space for others that would be coming in.

My son had wide feet and wide hands and a broad jaw and I decided that he would have room for the new teeth, so I declined the extractions. Sure enough, everything fit just fine.

We lived on a hobby farm at the time and grew a lot of our own food- from veggies to meat and chickens. I breast fed all four kids for various times depending on their needs. Perhaps my kids turned out OK due to our lifestyle.

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78417 · March 15, 2010 at 9:35 PM

this was dr bg's answer. she is definitely one of the better bloggers.

hey mary!

I agree -- in utero is where the dentition, teeth (baby and adult) and dental arches are FIXED. Pacifiers or pseudo-pacifiers (e.g. thumbs) though can lead to the front teeth coming forward, don't you think? It's interesting to hear you had vastly different diets with each pregnancy. The first one was quite lucky in retrospect! Personally I ate a lot of meat... my kids both have wide arches. However, way more high carbs w/the second and she has MAJOR dental issues. I gained 60 lbs with that pregnancy... 40-50 lbs with the first...

I believe from what I've researched and read from WAPF that the factors likely to lead to narrow arches and crowding are --low thyroid --refined carbs --lack of bone nutrients vitamins ADEK1K2 C B-vits, omega-3s, serotonin, mag, calc, zinc, etc

For birth order dynamics, I've wondered if what is observed all related to the hormone/nutrient milieu in utero -- as the mom gets thyroid depleted (and adrenal depleted -- adrenals make ~50 hormones and chemical messengers) -- this affects brain and organ development. The zodiac characteristics has been associated with vitamin D serum levels. Hhhmm... thoughts?

-G

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78417 · March 15, 2010 at 10:51 PM

This discussion is really interesting to me- I had never heard of this before even though I had four children.

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10 · October 15, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Great question. Probably because the paleo diet does not necessarily emphasize eating fat, which is one of the main things that Weston Price discovered would lead to proper bone structure. It's the fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 that really effect the palate. The traditional peoples that he studied had 10 times the amount of fat-soluble vitamins than the average American of his day.These fat-soluble vitamins are found in grass-fed eggs, raw milk dairy from pastured cows, liver, fish eggs, and animal fat. So the consumption of these things has to be very high in order for it to have an effect.

I think many people following a paleo diet consume factory-farmed meat and eggs. Factory farmed meat has low amounts of vitamins in it. Some people following the paleo diet avoid dairy, so in order to get the proper amount of fat-soluble vitamins they would need to consume a large amount of animal fats from other sources. I don't think there is usually much of an emphasis on saturated fat in the paleo diet: like pastured butter and lard. This is where the vitamins that effect bone and palate structure are found.

Just my opinion. I don't eat paleo so I could be way off! No offense meant to anyone if I am wrong in anything I said about the diet.

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10 · September 23, 2011 at 3:56 PM

this conversation is a year old but I wondered if anyone might still be interested in discussing. I am currently doing a research project for an anthropology degree thesis project that is testing an hypothesis that should shed some light on the question (paleo babies and palatal development). If anyone is interested, please email me at kbo569@gmail.com; and if the blogger who wrote that he/she knows of babies born to Weston Price Foundation members who have well developed palate in their adolescent/adult lives, please contact me.

Thanks

Kevin Boyd, MS, DDS Chicago

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3180 · September 23, 2011 at 6:53 PM

This summer I saw some native american skulls in Utah that were sveral hundred years old. What amazed me were the teeth. Perfectly aligned and widely arched. They were also worn down to nubs, but without a hint of decay. I can't imagine a modern person with teeth so worn, it seems you'd have a toothache in every tooth, but somehow I doubt the owners of these old teeth had toothaches. Also, all of the skulls had wisdom teeth that were full-grown and straight except the skull of a juvenile--that one had wisdom teeth half-grown, and not as much wear on other teeth. Check out some old skulls

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146 · September 23, 2010 at 9:12 PM

Surely natural selection and sexual selection come into play. Also, I am sure that the bones of the face would not form well unless there was some chewing involved. Traditional societies used they teeth as a tool. Grasping on to things to tie and rip, for tool making as well as eating tougher food.

Almost all of my acquaintances who have good facial breadth were raised on farms or in rural areas, on good home cooked food.

I was raised on corn flakes, pasteurized low fat milk, and microwave pizzas. While I have a wider face than some, my chin is a little weak and I had all of my wisdom teeth out and braces.

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608 · June 21, 2010 at 8:05 PM

Hi- first post here. By a wide dental arch do you mean enough space for all the teeth to fit comfortably? I have this and so does my mother, even though my face is longer than it is wide. Never had braces and teeth had more than enough room to fit. I am Peruvian born of Mediterrenean/Slavic ancestry. I think the dental arch issue is more common in Asia and North America...but this is just anecdotal evidence.

Picture of teeth http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3359186&id=664906997

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961 · March 14, 2010 at 10:00 PM

While nowhere close to a paleo diet, I've been raised on real butter, lots of meat and vegetables. No vegetable oils, moderate sugar. Normal birth, breastfed for a whole year.

My teeth are straight, never had bracers. I got to keep my wisdom teeth, but had 1 pulled 3 weeks ago (I'm 22) because a piece of it had broken off and was cutting into my cheek.

My nasal passage unfortunately isn't so great. I even had it surgically enlarged because before the paleo diet I always had clogged sinuses and couldn't breath through my nose much. I was 14 at the time. It seems a bit silly now, why not find out why my sinuses were always stuffed like that? They tested for allergies but that came out negative. pfft.

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20908 · September 24, 2011 at 12:28 AM

Well I just had a Paleo baby (well my wife did) 5 days ago and his face is definitely wider than both of ours. We'll see how he develops since he'll be eating a 100% Paleo diet ad long as we can control that.

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358 · September 23, 2011 at 9:09 PM

I've seen photos of twins (on the Weston Price site or one of its links, I think). The one who was nursed had the broad dental arch and more obvious cheekbones (and was deemed "more beautiful"); the bottle-fed twin had the smaller, crowded arch.

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45 · June 25, 2010 at 2:08 AM

Well, me and my fiancee started the paleo diet and lifestyle about 8 months ago, and plan on having kids in a couple years, so I am really interested to see how our kid's facial bone structure turns out! Both of us were raised on OK diets--some meat, some veggies, lots of fruit, definitly too much sugar, and him probably a little more processed junk than me.
I'm really hoping that our kids will have nice wide dental arches and straight teeth--I think if they do, it will really prove something about proper diet, because in my family, my mom, brother, sister and me all had HORRIBLY crooked teeth and needed braces/surgery/extractions to correct them. hehe I'll have to post pictures here when we finally do have kids, for our little experiment! I suppose it might not be something that can just be reversed in one generation, but I have high hopes from all of the research I've done on the subject!

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10919 · May 15, 2011 at 6:38 PM

That part of the book seemed extremely suspect to me. I mean, really... it's a chromosomal disorder. I could see widening the palate helping the appearance of someone with downs but reversing it? It was only one patient.

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45 · June 25, 2010 at 2:11 AM

Oh! and one other thing--I just read someone about mentioned palate expanders, and I remember a really interesting case Dr. Price wrote about in his book about a boy who was mentally and developmentally retarted, but after his palate was expanded to the proper width, and fitted with a permanant expander to keep it there, he basically recovered and was perfectly healthy. I wonder why this sort of treatment isn't used more commonly? Or maybe I've just never heard of it!

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78417 · March 18, 2010 at 2:11 AM

Oops- double post again.

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78417 · March 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM

me and dr. bg were talking about this. i wish i could have my pregnancies to do over. at least the first one didn't need braces (but did have a palatal expander). i had the expander and braces. the post from her blog:

Hi dr.

i posted this one the whole health source blog, but they were in the middle of discussing omega 6 oil and it was ignored. wondering if you have any thoughts on it, especially due to you taiwan background:

i have some info for you that is off topic, but i wasn't sure you would see it in the other posts about teeth.

my husband was born in 1963 in taiwan during a time when the people there still ate a traditional diet (except for the brain-washing of the population to believe bottle-feeding was better than breast-feeding). he, his three brothers, and half-sister all have beautiful teeth. this is the thing: they were all bottle-fed and the sister sucked on a pacifer until she was 5 years old. BUT, their family ate lots of fish, pork fat mixed into rice, organ meats, sweet potatoes and rice, bone broths etc. unfortunately i ate this way only partially while pregnant (i was living in taiwan at the time in the 90s). i have two daughers- one who i breast fed for 2 weeks and then switched to formula, and the other i almost exclusively breast fed for 10 months. both daughters required palate expanders. that was enough for the first daughter, and she didn't need braces. the second on did.

so- based on my husband's and my experience, i feel that the use of pacifiers isn't important. my older daughter's teeth are better, and that may be because i ate a more traditional chinese diet when i was pregnant with her. with the second child, i moved back to the US at 4 months of pregnancy and ate the SAD diet. so if the mom has a bad diet, breast feeding doesn't make a difference. since all the siblings in my husband's family got bottle-fed, maternal nutrition while pregnant, and eating well as children seem to be the most important factors.

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