From Mouth Matters by Carol Vander Stoep, RDH
The Divine Proportion is an indicator of good health.
– Chris Norton, D.D.S., Orthodontist
- How can we help children grow their most attractive face?
- How can we influence our body’s acid-base balance?
- What is the connection between sleep disturbances, mouth-breathing, and a host of diseases and problems including high blood pressure, poor blood sugar control, memory loss, reflux, and erectile dysfunction?
- Is hyperventilation a health hazard?
- How does bottle-feeding alter a baby’s appearance?
- What are the hazards of enlarged tonsils or being tongue-tied?
- Does extraction orthodontics lead to poorer health?
A person with insufficient reserves of either acid or alkaline buffers is a person who is unhealthy. For the purposes of this book, an unbalanced pH keeps the body from operating optimally and allows unfriendly bacteria to proliferate. Cavities, gum disease, and most other diseases result from an imbalance in either direction. Most often, the Standard American Diet (SAD) and lifestyle leads to acid waste build-up in cells than the other way around.
It is beyond the scope of this book to present this complicated, yet highly misunderstood subject in great detail, but it offers those interested in health some direction.
Acidity/alkalinity is primarily a function of dietary imbalances, particularly those resulting from insufficient trace and macro- minerals. Toxic acid loads can build within cells. Acid- binding (alkaline-forming) minerals are: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron, and manganese. Alkaline-binding (acid-forming) minerals are: phosphorus, sulfur, copper, silicon, and the halides fluorine, chlorine, bromine, and iodine.
A typical story: One of my clients, a biologist, reported he had endured athlete’s foot since his teens – for over 40 years. He had learned to live with it, but recently decided to try an alkalizing diet. He researched alkalizing foods online and tried to eat only alkaline-forming foods. He was shocked at how fast his athlete’s foot became a memory. I relay his story to other clients who try it with the same success.
One lady with a low salivary pH and a similar fungal infection on her toe had already suffered kidney damage from two unsuccessful cycles of drugs her doctor had prescribed to eliminate it. Of course we discussed how the kidney damage only made her body more hospitable to the fungus she was trying to clear, since kidneys help neutralize dietary acids. She jump-started her healing with topical ozonated gel treatments, but understood the fungal infection was opportunistic due to the acid waste build-up in cells her lifestyle had created. She changed her diet; the fungal infection cleared.
I told a friend how I felt unexpectedly different after I added kale and chard to my morning vegetable sauté and changed the vinegar in my salads from distilled to Bragg’s raw apple cider vinegar to raise my slightly low pH. He replied, “I agree. I don’t usually notice that foods make me feel one way or another – unless I eat greens for awhile. They make me feel better almost immediately.” How out of tune with our bodies most of us have become! [Kale rates a perfect 1000 score on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) adopted by Whole Foods.] Note: Though deposits rarely form on my teeth, after adding more greens, they always feel slick and there are zero deposits.
Acidity/Alkalinity balance is also affected by:
- Hydration/ability to carry minerals (electrolytes) and maintain a proper electrical charge (voltage) – A shocking majority of clients have excessively dry mouths. One should be able to produce at least 1.5 milliliters of saliva in five minutes if they have not been chewing, eating or drinking anything; 2.5 ml minimum if they have. Many of my clients cannot even produce enough saliva to test. These clients always show a pH less than 5.5. (See Appendix 5-D.)
- Respiration. Alkalosis is just as damaging as acidosis.
- Protein metabolism imbalance – While meats are notoriously known as acid-forming because meat metabolism results in massive amounts of phosphoric and sulfuric acid waste products, well-functioning kidneys efficiently eliminate them. One can double meat intake and only increase the kidney’s work load by about ten percent. Nonetheless, heavy meat intake can load cells with waste products they may have trouble eliminating.
- Nervous system imbalances, often brought on by stress
- Hormonal imbalances (Sex hormones or those hormones deriving from the kidneys, adrenals, thyroid, parathyroid, or the posterior pituitary)
- Kidney function – Kidneys are compensatory as they do their best to excrete or retain acids as needed. Kidneys cause an alkaline/acid imbalance in the body when their ability to excrete or retain acids is compromised.
Try it: Salivary pH is a partial measure of the buffering reserves of the body. A healthy saliva pH is 6.8. If that is your typical resting pH (two hours after a snack or meal), test it after a simple carbohydrate challenge dose. It should remain around pH 6.8. (For maximum accuracy, use pHion Diagnostic Test Strips.) You will maintain that near-neutral pH if your cells are not carrying a toxic acid load. It indicates you have adequate reserve buffering capacity. In order of importance:
- You have appropriate trace minerals at the cell level
- Macro minerals at the fluid level
- Correct blood balance of carbon dioxide, oxygen, and hemoglobin
- Respiration functions as it should
Respiration, though imperfect, is our last back-up system when the other buffering systems fail. Mouth breathers, those using a CPAP machine, and many of the rest of us, hyperventilate. PH suffers because we blow off excessive carbon dioxide, which in turn, leads to low oxygen release into tissues, described in more detail below. If your pH varies form the normal pH, the pH testing strips will tell you the degree of your problem so you can begin to address it.
Consistent readings over 7.5 indicate tissue breakdown. If your pH is over 8.0, your body is extremely acidic and is producing alkaline ammonia to compensate.
The remainder of this chapter shows how we cause acidosis or alkalosis with our breathing patterns as we try to regulate pH.
Does Beauty Matter?
That our culture values beauty is undeniable:
Babies: Attractive babies receive more affection and, and are more likely to grow up into well-balanced adults.
Intelligence: Attractive people are perceived as being more intelligent. In fact, they actually often are more intelligent, possibly because they receive more attention in schools and elsewhere. They are also more likely to get better jobs, rise to higher positions, and earn more money.
Criminals: An attractive criminal is more likely to receive a shorter sentence from a judge. Unattractive people are more likely to become criminals, Four out of five females committed for aggressive offenses were rated as unattractive. Criminals who improve their appearance with facial surgery are less likely to return to prison.
Military: Handsome cadets achieve higher rank by the time they graduate.
Better health: Surprisingly, beauty often results from a clear airway from birth. Unobstructed breathing brings immeasurable health benefits. Body chemistry changes significantly when one has a compromised airway.
Genetics does not play as large a role in facial development as most of us think.
A clear, wide airway may seem a birthright, but most Americans no longer have one. Most of us have adjusted to and dismissed what seem like minor annoyances. More likely, we recognize a compromised airway as:
- Sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea; some forms of snoring
- Unbalanced facial features; we are less attractive than we could be
- Unexplained weight gain
- Early wrinkles around the mouth and nose
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – ADHD
- Health imbalances including decay, gum disease, heart disease, stroke, and many other diseases. These diseases are partially defined by an unhealthy bacterial balance and heightened blood clotting. A too acidic or too alkaline pH reflects innumerable health problems sometimes resulting from poor breathing.
- Clouded intellect/poor memory
- Frequent ear infections in children
- Poor posture – tilted head, shoulders, and hips with S-shaped spine
- Forward head posture with sore neck and shoulders
- Mouth breathing
- Bed wetting through early adolescence
- Daytime sleepiness
- TMJ/jaw joint problems; clenching
- Misaligned teeth
- Morning headaches
- Sleep-walking or sleep-talking
- Erectile dysfunction
Nature’s Beauty Code
It has been said the Fibonacci Golden Ratio comprises Nature’s Beauty Code. We find the Fibonacci Golden Ratio, this Divine Proportion, (1 to 1.68 0339 887 …4 ) throughout nature – in birds, insects, flowers, art, architecture… and in faces.
When a mask representing a face in harmony with the Golden Ratio is overlaid features on a person’s photograph and key features align, we perceive the person as attractive. Maybe more importantly, we also can guess they breathe well.
What Affects Growth and Development?
The choice between breast-feeding or bottle-feeding affects a baby’s future health and appearance.
A clear airway and nasal breathing develop maximum facial attractiveness. A person with a poor airway and/or one who mouth breathes will have distorted features that fall outside the Golden Ratio.
- Swallowing habits
- Pacifier, finger or arm sucking
- Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids
- Drugs and diet
- Extraction Orthodontics
- Facial-Skeletal growth abnormalities
Breast-feeding, Beauty, and Health
Of course baby formula cannot match the nutrition found in mother’s milk. Immunoglobulins and human proteins in breast milk help infants resist allergies. Clear nasal passages allow babies to breath through their noses so their faces develop as they should.
Are there other reasons bottle-feeding prevents babies from developing their most attractive face? In fact, breastfed babies have a far better chance at beauty and health because these infants learn to work their lips, cheeks, and tongue differently. Facial development occurs early, when facial bones are plastic. Genes, skeletal influences, and airway development determine facial shape.
It takes 1.4 grams of pressure to move teeth or change bone structure. The tongue exerts up to 500 grams of pressure, the cheeks up to 300 grams. For maximum attractiveness and a lifetime of healthy function, these forces must balance each other. Proper swallowing patterns learned by breastfeeding balance these forces so teeth erupt evenly around the tongue to form a beautiful and functional arch. A wide arch promotes a wide, open airway.
The coordination required for an infant to swallow and breathe at the same time while breastfeeding is also a critical step in learning correct swallow patterns. In a proper swallow, the lips touch together lightly. The lower jaw moves slightly upward to touch the upper teeth. The tongue lightly moves up and reinforces the good arch form. There is minimal TM/jaw joint compression. Good breathing and swallowing habits maintain the balance of forces.
Babies who breastfeed and develop proper swallowing patterns and facial structure generally have more prominent cheekbones, less constricted sinuses, and a larger eye orbit that allows the eyeball to develop a proper shape. This improves chances of good eyesight. They also develop far fewer ear infections. Children with deep dental overbites are 2.8 times more likely to have ear tubes placed.
On the other hand, the tongue of a bottle-feeding baby creates a strong vacuum against the roof of the mouth and at the back of the throat. This can form a very high palatal vault, reduce the width of the arch, and constrict the sinuses and airway.
Working in concert to collapse the arch, the cheek muscles suck tightly inward. The [accompanying] images illustrate what can happen to a bottle-fed baby or one that developed improper swallowing patterns and a mouth breathing habit for other reasons. The amount of distortion relates to the duration of bottle-feeding. Switching to a cup as soon as possible shortens the time unbalanced forces are in play unless the child continues to swallow incorrectly.
In an article published in General Dentistry, Dr. Yosh Jefferson wrote, “Over time, children whose mouth breathing goes untreated may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces and mouths, gummy smiles, gingivitis (early stage gum disease) and crooked teeth. The poor sleeping habits that result from mouth breathing adversely affect growth and academic performance. Many of these children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.” Additionally, mouth breathing can cause low oxygen concentration in the bloodstream and an inability to release it. This can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnea, cellular toxicity, and other medical issues.
Jefferson continues, “Children who mouth breathe typically do not sleep well, causing them to be tired during the day and possibly unable to concentrate on academics. If the child becomes frustrated, he or she may develop behavioral problems.”
Practitioners who treat the full face train patients to keep their mouths closed, expecting this will encourage forward growth of the face instead of the more usual downward or vertical growth.
Try it: Make a thick, frozen smoothie, and then try to suck it through a small straw. Notice how hard your lips, tongue, and cheeks work, how much pressure they exert on your teeth and the roof of your mouth.
Very often, a bottle-fed child also develops a reverse swallow – a tongue thrust – during swallowing. The lips tighten strongly together, yet the teeth do not touch. Instead, the tongue tip moves down and forward between the teeth – away from the upper jaw. In this position, it does not support a good arch form for the top teeth. Instead, it causes crowding of the lower teeth as it pushes against the front teeth. The lower jaw moves backwards, which compresses the jaw joint on every swallow. The upper arch also continues to distort.
Try it: Place your tongue gently in the roof of your mouth and attempt to breathe through your mouth. It doesn’t work well, does it?