Wednesday, June 10, 2015

21DSD Day 10: Chewing and jaw development

Another 21DSD day on-the-go. Hard boiled eggs, check. Jerky, check. Coconut butter, check. Steamed carrots, check.

Today I had an appointment with my dentist. For the second year now, she has been diligently working every few months on expanding my narrow jaw to prevent future sleep apnea, jaw and neck pain, among other things. Something that is not usually attempted in adults without surgery but I highly recommend to seek a professional if that's a health concern of yours as well. I have the ALF appliance, which is a minimally invasive alternative to surgery.

Making sure my son doesn't grow up with the same medical-dental fate, I asked the doctor for preventative measure to take now and she pointed out the need to CHEW! Chewing tough foods is critical to proper jaw development. So anyone reading this with infants on solids, make sure your baby chews from the start. Beef jerky is traditionally perfect for the task in between meals instead of a paci that can really mess up the dental arch.

My little Jerky Chews-er!
Broad face, wide dental arch, naturally straight teeth are only partially affected by genetics. It's actually the muscles of the lips, tongue and cheeks that control whether the teeth are going to be straight or not.

I first came across this research from attending Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS) in 2011. I watched the presentation of Dr. Michael Mew, which you can find a summery of here. Some time later, I contacted him to elaborate on the effect of liquidized diet after weaning. Here is what he said:

"To give a quick response, at some point between birth and probably 3 years infants are supposed to move from a suckle to the swallow. This is an important for the future development of the face and the alignment of the teeth. Traditionally the infant would suckle breast milk and then swallow the relatively hard food that was available at the time (may be with a little pre-chewing from Mum- but not much) so the distinction was plain and clear cut. Soft or liquidized baby food allows the child to learn to suckle solid food and since so much of our modern diet can be "par-suckled" this becomes a permanent habit. The forces of a suckle, suck on the teeth pulling them inwards. This is affecting their position and encouraging crowding that is now endemic, previously non existent."

I find this very interesting and have been obsessed since then to learn more, get the treatment for myself, and make sure my child's dental-facial development is on the right track.

My son loves to chew on Jerky Chews. The fact that the Original flavor is the cleanest on the market, I feel good about offering the healthy traditional snack to him. It works wonders at massaging his gums (he only has 2 teeth at 7 months). I could also see the connection of learning to chew in infancy helping our children grow into slower, mindful eaters.

Here is a yummy chewy-steak dinner (following the energy mod of 21DSD) to finish the good day off!

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