Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS ● Nutritional Periodontist
November 30, 2015
Beginning about 10,000 years ago, the shape of our jaws started changing at a faster pace than the previous 200,000 years of modern humans. The change in jaw structure coincided with the advent of agriculture farming about 10,000 years ago and then later with the way mother’s fed their children.
Processed foods like baked goods, pasta, and refined sugars were created and grew in popularity after agriculture farming began 10,000 years ago. Processed foods were devoid of many nutrients that were necessary for normal bone growth. Also, eating lifestyles replaced nutrient-dense foods with processed foods. Without proper nutrients, jaw development was compromised.
Processed foods also were very soft and didn’t require much chewing. Since forceful chewing was no longer necessary, the jawbones and muscles did not have to be as strong as they needed to be when foods were tougher and harder. So, the size of the jaw and the size of the muscles began to shrink.
The jawbone didn’t change for all people. For example, today’s hunter-gatherer societies that are located in various spots around the world do not eat any processed foods. They only eat what they can hunt and gather. They have relatively healthy jaws and healthy bodies. However, when some of these individuals migrated to different “modern” societies and replaced their traditional diets with highly processed “western diets”, things began to change. These individuals over time developed chronic diseases and dental problems, and they had offspring with increased dental abnormalities.
Another factor affecting a change in the shape of the jaw was a decrease in mothers who were breastfeeding their babies. Breastfeeding allowed the baby’s palate to develop and grow normally. When bottle-feeding replaced breastfeeding in the 1800s, infants’ jaws were not able to properly grow because of a lack of normal stimulation from the human breast. Without proper stimulation, the upper jaw was challenged to grow wide enough to allow room for the teeth to erupt.
What I have described is not universally accepted. Not surprisingly, there is controversy. But, eating nutrient-dense foods that represent the nutrition of our primal ancestors will provide our body with the necessary fuel required for proper cell growth and function. Eating raw foods as well as crunchy foods like nuts and seeds will stimulate and exercise the muscles and bones of the jaw. In addition, when mothers breastfed their children, these children were healthier than those that were not breastfed. (Here, Here)
Our health and our children’s health are dependent on these primal and natural lifestyles.