Why does modern society have an epidemic of underdeveloped jaws?

There is a wealth of literature supporting the fact that there is widespread underdeveloped jaws in our society. Infact, at least 57% of the population have underdeveloped jaws. 

It’s important we understand why as this helps direct our treatment protocols.

Below is a video about this and is followed by a detailed explanation.

The first issue: food
The second issue: nasal blockages
The third issue: breastfeeding

The beginnings of our airway disorder epidemic can be traced back to the 1800s. In 1790, 95% of Americans lived in rural areas.

With the industrial revolution and shift in population towards the cities, farmers began industrially producing food to meet demand. However, the mass production resulted in food becoming:

  • too soft
  • less nutritious

With the softer food, our jaws didn’t need to work as hard to chew the food. So the lack of force applied on the jaw bones resulted in widespread underdevelopment of the jaws. Weston A Price’s body of work Nutrition and Physical Degeneration was a major stepping stone in unravelling this root cause.

Dr Price travelled the world and studied the dental health and jaw structures of indigenous cultures isolated from Western diets. He noted straight teeth with no cavities and wide, broad jaw structures. Price also found that once these cultures began eating a Western diet, dental crowding was more prevalent as was narrower jaws.

This theory was further supported by the work of famous anthropologist Corruccini.

With softer foods, the facial muscles didn’t need to work as hard to swallow, particularly the tongue. So muscular dysfunction is widespread, in the form of:

  • dysfunctional swallowing
  • low tongue posture

So due to the modern diet of processed, soft and industrialised foods, there was muscle dysfunction leading to a lack of stimulation of jaw growth.

What’s the structure that lies right behind the jaws? The airway. So the lack of forwards growth of the jaws, has led to our airways being compromised.

On a side note, the highly processed nature of our modern diet has also increased rates of obesity which also contributes to the high percentage of the population with OSA.

Nasal obstruction is rife in our children due to the high exposure to allergens in today’s polluted air.

Our children have high sensitivities to the large array of allergens that they are exposed to. This results in constant allergies that block that nasal passages and for the mouth open in order to take the next breath. Because survival is about taking the next breath.

With mouth breathing, the tongue has a low posture, far away from where it needs to be at the roof of the mouth. And the tongue is the midface’s architect. Tongue in the wrong spot equals craniofacial deformities.

There is a mountain of evidence to support that nasal obstruction causes a wide array of craniofacial deformities. And 75% of your child’s facial development is complete by age 4! So please get things checked. Best to be sure right? Prevention is far easier than cure.

And aside from the effects on facial development, the negative effects of mouthbreathing are also significant because the individual is missing out on the extremely positive benefits of nasal breathing. More on that here.

Insufficient breast feeding has also played a part. And I write that with no element of judgement towards mothers. You are all incredible.

When breastfeeding, the child’s tongue is positioned on the underside of the breast and presses upwards to create sufficient suction to extract the breast milk.

The benefits of this are numerous:

  1. This forces the baby to breathe through the nose whilst swallowing the breast milk. Nasal breathing is learnt.
  2. There excellent development of the throat muscles for swallowing
  3. The tongue is trained to rest up on the roof of the mouth. 

Correct tongue posture, against the roof of your mouth helps promote proper development of your upper jaw. It expands the jaw sideways and ensures adequate forwards growth.

The tongue is actually the architect of the mid-face.

I have a quick question, right now as you read this…is your tongue flat up against the roof of your mouth? If not, you need to have a myofunctional therapy (MFT) consult as well as a functional breathing consult.

Without breastfeeding for ideally one year, these valuable behaviours are not learnt. With 75% of craniofacial development occurring within the first 4 years of life, What can follow is collapse of the oral cavity, compromise of the airway and inadequate facial development.

So what effects does the underdeveloped jaws have on our health?

  1. With jaws not growing forwards enough it means they sit further back in the skull. This compromises the structure that sits right behind the jaws: the airway, which leads to a high prevalence of breathing-disordered sleep. The fragmented sleep has devastating consequences on our systemic health.
  2. The mandible (lower jaw) is locked tight in behind the underdeveloped maxilla (upper jaw). So our jaw joints (TMJ) are much further back into our skull than they are supposed to be. This results in TMD as well as overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve. TMD is underdisagnosed and misdiagnosed. Sufferers have varying degrees of clinical signs and symptoms so all patients with jaw underdevelopment should also be screened for TMD. Left untreated, it is a significant contributor to many chronic illnesses.
  3. With the airway compromise, we lean our heads forward to help us breathe. The forward head posture impacts our upper cervical vertebrae alignment. With the upper cervical vertebrae out of line, the nerve signals from the brain to the spinal cord, and vice versa, are interrupted. So our nervous system cannot function properly. Does a kinked garden hose release water out the end?

All this leads to two major things:

  1. Inflammation
  2. Imbalances in our Central and Autonomic Nervous System

Diabetes. Autoimmune conditions. Cardiovascular disease. Stroke. These chronic illnesses, to list a few, can be avoided and in some cases, reversed!

Without appropriate management, inflammation and autonomic imbalance combine to set us up for gradual multiple system failure. We may think we are living longer, but we actually start dying quite early in our lives with the onset of chronic disease. We just take a long time to die.

It’s time to reclaim your health and the health of your loved ones.

So, how can Sydney Airway Clinic help?

I’m glad you asked. But first, let’s look at why the airway is so paramount to optimal health.