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Is it Mental or is it Dental? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Raymond Silkman, DDS   
Thursday, 30 March 2006 00:48

Cranial & Dental Impacts on Total Health

Dr. Raymond Silkman has a private practice in holistic dentistry and orthodontics in West Los Angeles, California. This article is based on his presentation at the 6th annual conference of the Weston A. Price Foundation in 2005.

The widely held model of orthodontics, which considers developmental problems in the jaws and head to be genetic in origin, never made sense to me. Since they are wedded to the genetic model, orthodontists dealing with crowded teeth end up treating the condition with tooth extraction in a majority of the cases. Even though I did not resort to pulling teeth in my practice, and I was using appliances to widen the jaws and getting the craniums to look as they should, I still could not come up with the answer as to why my patients looked the way they did. I couldn’t believe that the Creator had given them a terrible blueprint --it just did not make sense. In four years of college education, four years of dental school education and almost three years of post-graduate orthodontic training, students never hear a mention of Dr. Price, so they never learn the true reasons for these malformations. I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of very knowledgeable doctors in various fields of allopathic and alternative healthcare who still do not know about Dr. Price and his critical findings.

These knowledgeable doctors have not stared in awe at the beautiful facial development that Price captured in the photographs he took of primitive peoples throughout the globe and in so doing was able to answer this most important question: What do humans look like in health? And how have humans been able to carry on throughout history and populate such varied geographical and physical environments on the earth without our modern machines and tools?

The answer that Dr. Price was able to illuminate came through his photographs of beautiful, healthy human beings with magnificent physical form and mental development, living in harmony with their environments.

What Is Happening?

It has been well documented and Nobel prizes have been awarded to researchers that have established the relationship between proper form and development and proper physical functioning of the body. The changes in facial structure that we observe in our children today is an extremely serious matter. I would like to explore the consequences of what is happening to human physical form.

Let’s evaluate what happens to our children or adults who have faces that are narrow and long, who have lower jaws that are not developed properly, or who have a profile view showing a very weak chin. What happens when we see jaws so narrow and small that the teeth are crowded and overlapping. What happens when the cranium is underdeveloped in various dimensions and the eyes are not level with one another?

What is the physical health legacy of these individuals going to be? What happens when we see children and adults with forward head posture--necks that are holding the head in a forward position?

There’s an old saying, that someone "has his head on his shoulders." The translation: well-grounded minds require well-grounded and well-supported physical forms and bodies. Unfortunately today a lot of people don’t have their heads on their shoulders--their heads are positioned in front of the shoulders.

Since a normal adult cranium weights between 12 to 18 pounds, the musculo-skeletal strain in the neck or cervical region to support a forward head posture can cause a cascade of events leading right down to the feet. The forward head posture in most individuals creates improper spinal alignment and lack of proper curvature to the spine at critical areas.

There is also an alarming trend in hip and knee replacement surgeries and many individuals have improper or mostly flat arches in the feet necessitating orthotics in their shoes or, even worse, corrective surgeries.

What happens to people when they don’t have their heads on their shoulders? What is causing this effect and why does the body support this apparently futile posture? We will answer that question.

The Cranium or Skull

Let's discuss the significance of the skeletal structures in the head. The human cranium is made up of roughly 22 cranial bones not including the ones responsible for sound transmission. One of the key bony structures in the cranium is the maxilla, or the upper jaw. The cranium also houses the extremely important glands of the endocrine system. Two of these glands, the pituitary and the hypothalamus, are housed in another very important bony structure known as the sphenoid bone residing directly and in close contact with the maxilla.

The entire brain, and all of the structures or glands housed in the cranial cavity as well as the spinal cord and all of the peripheral and accessory nerves in the entire body are covered by a continuous-membranous sheath called the dural membrane. In dissections, it has been demonstrated and documented that pressure or force on the dural membrane in the cranial cavity or at the brain level will create pulsation or an opposite force at the end of the spinal cord, and vice versa.

If the cranium is not developed properly, the dural membrane can become twisted and torqued, thus possibly creating nerve conduction issues, hormonal imbalances or pain. You can imagine the effects that this can have on the nervous system and on an individual’s overall health and well being.

Interestingly, medical research has demonstrated the presence of constant and rhythmic movement of the cranial bones at the contact areas, also known as the sutures. Just as in breathing, when the lungs fill with air and then empty, so there is a movement of cerebral spinal fluid up and down the spinal cord and around the brain. So, unlike the popular belief that "it’s good to have a solid nogger," we now know that this does not mean an immovable head or cranium. The inherent motion in the cranial bones is very important to overall health. Various accidents or trauma or surgical interventions of the face and head can have a negative effect on this motion.

There are also various foramina or openings in the bones of the skull which allow nerves and blood or lymphatic vessels to pass from the cranium to the lower areas and vice versa. If any of the cranial bones is under-developed or misshapen, as often happens to be the case, then these foramina can also be malformed. For example, they may be ovoid rather than circular because of underdevelopment, which may cause an impedance to flow of circulatory or neurological vessels going through that particular foramen. Improper drainage of our waste products through our lymphatic system or lack of oxygenation or nourishment of cranial tissues and organs may be experienced as negative effects on brain function and mental clarity.

The Maxilla

This bony structure provides visible structure to the whole mid-facial area. Eleven of the cranial bones directly contact the maxilla and the rest of the cranial bones have an intimate contact with the bones directly in contact with the upper jaw or maxilla. Therefore the position and size of the upper jaw has quite a lot to do with proper cranial development and facial aesthetics.

The entire floor of the orbit or eye sockets, where the visual globes or the eyeballs are housed, is made up of the upper jaw or maxilla. When the maxilla is not well developed, and the face is long and skinny, the eye sockets do not develop properly; the eyeballs cannot develop as a sphere, but may take on a football shape. The resultant developmental pattern can create various ophthalmic issues such as astigmatism or myopia. We can treat astigmatism with corrective lenses but the treatment does not really address the root of the issues.



The maxilla viewed from underneath. Note the narrow palate in this illustration.


View of the interior of the head. Note the small area in the center where the nerves and blood vessels must pass.


Side view of the head showing the tongue and the nasal cavity.


The complex sphenoid bone, positioned behind and above the maxilla.

Arteries of the head

The arteries in the head. If the passages for these arteries run through skeletal openings that are too narrow, many detrimental effects can occur.

Airway Obstruction

The most serious consequence of under development of the maxilla is airway obstruction and mouth breathing. Eighty five percent of the nasal airway is made up of the maxilla, which provides the floor of the nasal cavity and houses all of the nasal sinuses typically referred to as the sinus cavities. Therefore, an individual with a narrow or improperly formed maxilla will have extremely narrow nasal passages, which limit flow of air and breathing capabilities, and will thus experience difficulty in having proper sinus health and drainage.

It is an important fact that the soft tissues develop to their genetic size, even when the bones do not! You might think of the head as a box that must house all of the structures that the genetic code needs to express and that will develop, but lack of proper dimensions to the cranial bones and the cranial cavity causes overcrowding, overlapping or deviation of some soft tissue areas. This can be illustrated by the example of overpacking a suitcase.


Caption: A deviated septum or overgrowth of the soft tissue in the nose can cause blockage of the nostrils, leading to mouth breathing.

An example of this "overpacked suitcase" in humans occurs in the nose. How often have you heard someone say, "I have a deviated septum"? The septum is the cartilaginous tissue membrane that separates the two nostrils vertically. Imagine this soft tissue developing to its normal size, but the maxilla remains under-developed. The developing septum has to express its dimension somewhere, so it has two choices—it either deviates or bends to one side or the other (the deviated septum) or it grows through the maxillary suture and creates the condition known as palatal tori. These are bumps or ridges in the middle of the palate and most people have them to some degree or another.

A deviated septum blocks proper nasal air flow causing the individual to take up mouth breathing most of the time. There are a variety of other soft and hard tissue conditions associated with the nasal cavity such as polyps, enlarged turbinates and muscosal conditions that also serve to restrict air flow.

Breathing through the nose creates an avenue of air that’s moisturized, humidified and even somewhat filtered. Furthermore, when we breathe through our nose, the air passing through the nasal airway and contacting the turbinates--shelf- like bony structures--is slowed down. This allows the proper mixing of the air with an amazing gas produced in the nasal sinuses called nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is secreted into the nasal passages and is inhaled through the nose. It is a potent vaso-dilator, and in the lungs it enhances the uptake of oxygen. NO is also produced in the walls of blood vessels and is critical to all organs.


Let's evaluate the differences in mouth breathers and nose breathers. The consequences of mouth breathing can occur from the moment of birth because all infants are obligate nose breathers. That is the mechanism by which breast feeding and breathing can occur simultaneously. If a baby has obstructed airways, he may turn away from the breast due to lack of air and prefer a bottle, which allows him to consume his food more quickly.

A mouth breather will not be humidifying the air, or slowing it down to allow the proper mixing of NO with it. The lungs will have difficulty providing maximum oxygenation for the body with this dry, unhumidified, unfiltered and, most importantly, NO-lacking air. This constant and chronic condition affects the cardiovascular system and the heart because the smooth muscles that line all of the arteries react to this poorly oxygenated air with a kind of tightness, a kind of permanent tension, which can be very stressful and depleting to the body. Furthermore it has been clinically shown that blocking NO production in healthy individuals results in moderate hypertension and reduced heart output as well as shortened bleeding times by activation of platelet blood-clotting factors.

Due to the lack of proper oxygenation, the ability to deliver fully oxygenated blood to the cells is also much reduced. Thus mouth breathing has a negative effect on every cell in the body as it deprives them of oxygen. Overall wellness and health requires proper oxygen as every particle of our being requires oxygen. Cancer cells, by the way, are anaerobic by design. Other manifestations of mouth breathing include snoring and cessation of breathing (also known as sleep apnea), some types of headaches, hypertension without other known clinical causes, bed wetting, chronic ear or sinus infections, TMJ pain, sleep disorders and dark patches under the eyes.

Visual Diagnosis

Much valuable information can be obtained by looking at and studying the faces of traditional peoples with proper physical development and form. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Price and all of the photographers and cinematographers who have provided us with such valuable clues and information.

We can tell a lot about an individual’s physical development just by looking at the face. One of the things I look at in profile view is the nasal-labial angle. In a well developed person, this angle is an acute angle, that is, less than 90 degrees. A nasal-labial angle that is obtuse, that is greater than 90 degrees, is a sign that the maxilla is not well developed or positioned in the front-to-back dimension of the skull. The proper development of the maxilla is absolutely critical to the formation of the entire head and to the health of the entire body—and not just physical health but spiritual and emotional health as well.


In the photograph at left we see an individual with a nasal-labial angle of about 110 degrees, a sure sign that the maxilla is underdeveloped. As a consequence, he will not have an optimal development of the rest of head. Predictably, he has a narrow palate and in this case, he has had four premolar teeth extracted.

Another sign of poor facial development can be detected in the eyes. When someone is looking straight at you and you can see the sclera or white of the eye, that is a tip off to a very, very under developed upper jaw and mid-facial area.

Another area of interest is the soft tissues and skin. Sagging and wrinkles are minimal or non-existent in people with good physical development as they age. Their faces don’t sink back into their craniums. Wrinkles happen when the scaffolding—the bony structure—becomes diminished in comparison to the muscles and skin.

As I mentioned, the soft tissues of the body grow to their genetic size, even when the bony structures do not. The skin, the tongue, the tonsils and the nasal tissues grow to their genetic size but when the nutrition is missing, the bony structures are compromised. So the face will have an excess of skin and musculature, the tongue and tonsils will be too large for the mouth. Nasal bumps can also result--the nasal tissues are out of proportion to the facial structure so they protrude. People who have proper facial development do not have nasal bumps.

The TMJ and the Lower Jaw

When we look at the skull from the profile view we observe the temporo-mandibular joint, the TMJ. Most joints will go through normal hinge motion, and some of them like the shoulder and hip joint will have a rotational motion that is more complex. However, in these joints, the two bony members stay in contact with one another throughout the motion of the joint. The TMJ is unique in that it is designed to provide both hinging and sliding motion. In order to accomplish this compound hinge-and-sliding movement, the TMJ has a disc that slides in concert with the lower jaw or mandible. When the lower jaw is not positioned forward enough, the TM Joints do not develop very well, and the discs can get jammed behind or in front of the joint. They can even become perforated and cause some of the "clicks and pops" that can be heard when people open and close their mouths. Immediately behind the TM Joints we also have the ear canals and important vascular and neurological structures, which can become impinged upon as well.

What we call an overbite or overjet should really be called an underbite, because it is caused by the mandible, the lower jaw, that is too far back, not the maxilla that is too far forward. But when children come to the orthodontist with what the public calls an overbite, they are often treated by removing some of the teeth in the upper jaw and then with a device known as neck gear or headgear to pull the maxilla back. The thinking is that the apparatus will stunt the growth of the maxilla and allow the lower jaw to grow and catch up, or that the maxilla has grown too far forward and must be pulled back.

But the maxilla is already stunted due to poor nutrition and so you can imagine how this type of treatment may cause more compression, more jamming of the bones in the head with possible detrimental whole body effects. The correct treatment for this condition is to widen the palate with an appliance so the lower jaw position can be corrected forward and allow proper physiological form and function as our ancestors have enjoyed throughout the millennia.

More Visual Clues

When children or adults are not breathing properly they tend to develop dark patches and bags under their eyes. This is due to lack of adequate circulation as well as venous blood pooling in these areas.

Kids that are mouth breathers will always have chapped lips and typically the line separating the inner lining of the lip and the outside lining , known as the vermilion border, will be visible. Also mouth breathers in profile tend to have very weak chins and elongated faces. Typically these individuals will suffer from chronic sinusitis or sinus infections, colds, respiratory problems and lung-related issues.

Typically children with bags under their eyes have short attention spans because they do not have good circulation and oxygenation of the head and can tire easily. They are literally suffocating.

Furthermore, they don’t sleep very well--they are always tossing and turning and they wake up tired. Your body recuperates during sleep and sleep is especially important for teenagers. Teenagers need to go to bed before 10:00 pm because certain brain cycles designed for recuperation of the body kick in at around that time. These cycles will be interrupted if sleep mode is delayed to after 10:30-11:00 pm. The recuperation and rebuilding necessary to cope with stressful daily activities will then be compromised. These are the tired, sleepless kids who tend to have a diet high in sugar, trans fats and grains. They may end up labeled as ADD or ADHD and treated with drugs.

Airway capacity is the biggest and most important part of the well-being of a human being. It is important to stress the fact that breathing through the mouth and breathing through the nose have extremely disparate effects on the body. We are not designed to breathe through our mouths. The body is able to live by breathing through the mouth, but it suffers greatly for doing it.

Examples of Poor Facial Development


Narrow face, mouth breathing, sclera showing under the eyes.

Poor facial development: overbite, darkness under the eyes, weak chin


Over bite or over jet, dark areas under the eyes, weak chin.



Narrow face, circles under eyes, nose bump, tendency for face to sag.


Internal Structures

The structures that hang off the mandible or lower jaw include the tongue and the nasal pharyngeal areas, which eventually lead down into the lungs.

Other structures that can affect the airways further back in the throat area or the pharyngeal airway space are the tonsils and adenoids. About 85 percent of the children I see in my practice have extremely large tonsils and do you think they can breathe very well? It is not possible to breathe very well when tonsils, which are typically supposed to be almost unnoticeable, are so inflamed that they are almost touching and practically closing off the airway in the back of the throat, right where air is supposed to pass on its journey towards the lungs.

These structures also become swollen due to food allergies, especially allergies to pasteurized dairy. Every time I’ve had a kid and a mom convinced that they should stop everything pasteurized and processed and then eventually go to raw dairy products I have seen some reduction in tonsillar size, although this doesn’t happen overnight.

(Interestingly, I have had two cases of children who stopped having epileptic seizures as soon as they had their extremely massive tonsils taken out. Please note that I usually do not recommend removal of organs and body parts.)

Almost invariably a narrow or under-developed maxilla can cause the effect of holding back the lower jaw or the mandible. This improper positioning of the mandible and its inherent retrusion causes a lack of physical and physiological space for the tongue and the pharyngeal tissues, which again will provide an impedance to the airways, causing breathing difficulties and lowered oxygen uptake by all of the tissues.

The most important orthodontic appliance that you all have and carry with you twenty-four hours a day is your tongue. People who breathe through their nose also normally have a tongue that postures up into the maxilla. When the tongue sits right up behind the front teeth, it is maintaining the shape of the maxilla every time you swallow. Every time the proper tongue swallow motion takes place it spreads up against maxilla, activating it and contributing to that little cranial motion, that cranial pumping that we discussed earlier. Individuals who breathe through their mouths have a lower tongue posture and the maxilla does not receive the stimulation from the tongue that it should.

When the tongue doesn't fit inside the jaws or dental arches it retracts back into the throat and pushes on the floor of the mouth. The result is something that looks like a double chin, even in women who are very thin. When we begin palate-widening procedures, this problem disappears--without plastic surgery.

And then what happens when orthodontists treat these problems by removing teeth? If he takes out eight teeth out of a total of 32 (four first molars and then later on four wisdom teeth), the patient ends up missing one-fourth of his teeth. What are the consequences of this? Can you take out 25 percent of anything that's supposed to be whole and expect it to be okay? I consider the teeth as organs and do not recommend the removal of teeth for tooth crowding or orthodontic treatments.

And what happens when a child is given head gear or neck gear, when you put a force on a cranium to pull it back? There can be serious consequences.

hi-mental-headgear2 hi-mental-headgear1

Types of headgear used to pull back the upper or lower jaw.

The Final Answer: Adaptive Capacity

Our bodies have an adaptive capacity to deal with shortcomings. Those of you who have studied CPR know about the ABCs of resuscitation. The A stands for airways and what are you supposed to do when someone needs assistance? You tilt the head back to open the airway. Similarly, when the airways are chronically blocked, the body tilts the head back. But humans cannot walk around with their noses up in the air for too long. The eyes must be parallel with the horizon, so the body then leans the head forward. Forward head posture in essence is a chin lift procedure with the eyes corrected to the horizon in a vertical or standing position.

That's where that characteristic forward head posture comes from. This chin-lift, head-tilt-forward posture helps open up the airways. As I mentioned, craniums on adults weigh 12-18 pounds. Imagine a bowling ball. If I carry the bowling ball close to my body, I can carry it without becoming tired, but if I carry the bowling ball out in front of my body, what happens? I am going to suffer from fatigue. So then, in order to balance the head tilted forward, I may extend my butt out a bit, which creates a misalignment of the hips, but helps to balance the extra forward weight of the ball. How many people do you know that have hip and lower back problems? Most of those people also have airway problems. Also, there are limbs attached to the hips--we call them legs--so when the hips go out of alignment, the knees have to adjust to this weird hip posture.

These adjustments are all very subtle. One doesn't wake up and feel that he or she is going to walk differently. Can you imagine that all of these issues and events can start with a baby who is chronically breathing through its mouth? So airway capacity is the most important hallmark of the well-being of a human being. If you have good airway capacity, you will go through life with a strong immunity to illness.

hi-mental-weakchin1 Second example of forward head tilt

Breathing difficulties can lead to the tiring head tilt forward position.

Sympathetic Overload

When the bones in the head are underdeveloped or misaligned, the soft tissues are over-crowded and unable to assume their normal shapes and positions and the air way is obstructed. When, in addition, the diet is not nourishing and lacks proper fats, the nervous system also suffers.

Let me explain: as you may know, there are two types of autonomic nerves, sympathetic and parasympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system works to calm us down and to heal. The sympathetic nervous system is the part used when one needs to get out of a dangerous situation. It operates when we are under a lot of stress, and we are not meant to be under constant physical stress. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated it places the body and mind in an alert mode and this mode and the constant stress depletes the bodily reserves and nutrients.

Sympathetic nervous system overload also occurs when the airway is obstructed and the input or sense to the nervous system is akin to a hand or choker around the neck. What type of response do you think the nervous system will have? It’s on high alert at all times. This is why kids who are mouth breathers have a strong gag reflex, for example. For them, the mouth is the source of air as well as the source of food, and the mouth was not designed to perform both of these functions. So kids and adults who are mouth breathers have strong gag reflexes, sometimes so strong that they can’t get near their mouths without difficulty, not even with their own toothbrushes or eating utensils. This, of course, precludes certain psychological issues that can also create a strong gag reflex but can be ruled out during an assessment.

So mouth breathers tend to have amped-up sympathetic nervous systems, always on alert, and they have a hard time getting their physical or mental bodies to relax. Many have found an avenue of dealing with this issue subconsciously, namely exercise and physical exertion. This is because during physical exertion large volumes of air are inhaled, which may give the body the input it needs to make up for the lack of proper oxygenation during rest periods.

Long-Term Consequences

People who are not well oxygenated and who have poor posture often suffer from fatigue and fibromyalgia symptoms, they snore and have sleep apnea, they have sinusitis and frequent ear infections. Life becomes psychologically and physically challenging for them and they end up with long-term dependence on medications—and all of that just from the seemingly simple condition of crowded teeth.

In other words, people with poor facial development are not going to live very happily. They’re always going to be in and out of treatment, hopefully with a more holistic alternative practitioner—but you can take all the herbs in the world, you can take all the homeopathic medicines for these conditions, but the truth is, you cannot have proper function without the proper structure. If you don’t have the proper form how do you expect proper function even with the best alternative care?

So, as you can see, airway capacity is extremely important and many times when we do the procedures that widen the palate, correct the head tilt and allow a person to breath through the nose, that person suddenly becomes happy. It is amazing to see the things that happen when we take steps to expand the palate and the upper jaw. The patients go through a literal expansion, but they also open up in many ways--they open up their hearts and their personalities and relationships change. They become more pleasant, more contented. A lot of amazing things can come about just from changing the shape of the maxilla for a human being.

Well-Formed and Hardy

My friends think I am nuts but I can stare for hours at photographs of well-formed individuals and just marvel at the beauty of proper physical form and function and the capabilities for hard work and functioning that these individuals tend to have.

hi-mental-goodface1 hi-mental-goodface2

Examples of excellent facial development: Note the broad middle portion of the face, well-developed lower jar and smoothness (lack of sags or circles) under the eyes. These individual illustrate the full expression of our genetic blueprint.

Let’s ask a question: who can perform better in jobs or sports with very difficult physical requirements and conditions? Generally you will find the well-developed (that doesn’t mean large muscle mass), well-formed individuals who are capable of such physical feats and they tend to come from rural or isolated areas or from families that have consumed more traditional diets and therefore had much better development than the average city child growing up these days. Many of these individuals are people who come from other parts of the world and are involved with professional sports and or jobs we consider menial, such as doing our gardening, housework and construction work, and even raising our children--people who are able bodied and capable.

Therefore if we are looking for the magic period to help a child grow into an individual with amazing physical capabilities then we must acknowledge that the most important developmental period is preconception and the nine months in utero or in the womb--this is when the foundation is laid for living a full 120 years. The parents should prepare themselves well in advance of conception by eating a nutritionally supportive diet, based on the principles discovered by Weston Price, and continue that diet during pregnancy. If, through out the individual’s life, such nutritional practices are continued, then the possibility to have excellent physical form and function is highly likely, with great rewards to that individual. Please take into consideration the fact that over the last 100 to 120 years in this country, many events and conditions have slowly weakened the offspring born in each successive generation. Modern medicine classifies some of the physical symptoms encountered in the younger generations as genetic; however, even though there may be genetic aberrations occurring due to toxicity of the environment, these symptoms are a reflection of the improper human development due to poor nutrition.

The people who were born in the 1920s, '30s and '40s tended to drink and smoke. They had teeth extracted, root canals and metal fillings, yet they are generally not the chemically sensitive individuals we see in our population today, young people in their twenties who can’t handle even a little bit of lavender scent in the room.

Sources of Energy

We must also briefly discuss other sources of input or energy besides diet needed to create proper physical form and mental function. There is a concept that views a human being as a sort of battery or capacitor. We are the sum of all that goes into us, not only our physical diet but also the input of an emotional or spiritual nature, including our connections to one another, to nature and animals, to art, to the Creator and also, most importantly, to ourselves.

A connection that more than 90 percent of individuals lack is the connection to the earth. Historically, humans have had some form of physical contact with the earth and its electro-magnetic field. We worked on the land and collected our sustenance with our feet or bodies in contact with the earth and without the interference of man-made materials and building structures. So it's important to literally stay connected with the earth by walking barefoot outside and letting all of our senses recalibrate themselves to what our body knows as normal.

Finally, we get energy from our belief systems and from our beliefs about ourselves. When something goes wrong, do we berate ourselves or do we see our troubles as important lessons given to us because we are worthy to receive them?

Humans Recognize Proper Facial Form

While very few people have heard of the work of Weston Price these days, we haven't lost our ability to recognize proper facial form. To make it in today's society, you must have good facial development. You're not going to see a general or a president with a weak chin, you're not going to see coaches with weak chins, you're not going to see a lot of well-to-do personalities in the media with underdeveloped faces and chins. You don't see athletes and newscasters with narrow palates and crooked teeth.

Unfortunately the trends in cosmetic facial and body enhancement procedures make one believe that all can be bought with money and surgery, but a word of caution: avoid implantation of objects or removal of organs as they interfere with normal and natural processes of the body, mind and soul. Great research has demonstrated that cells communicate with one another via a form of light and surgery tends to disrupt these light pathways, also called meridians or chi pathways.


This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2005/Spring 2006.

About the Author


Comments (36)Add Comment
The life of a mouth breather untreated
written by james Kelly, Nov 17 2013
The woe I have suffered from chronic mouth breathing from sinitus has deformed my face, my teeth, my speech, my appearance, my academic performance, my growth as a child and my confidence.Your whole life is affected by such an overlooked issue and all the affected out there are sub-concious of this cause.
A local appointment with the Gp or dentist wont get you anywhere with this, simple lack of knowledge and poor treatment has left the vunrebale poor children growing up to be deformed adults knowing they could've had the potential to live a life. And the two things that could make a deformed mouthbreathers face worse, is the very action we call 'treatment'; tooth extractions and headgear.
Its the final pin in the coffin making those already small jaws even worse. Your airway will be poor and narrow and not to mention the facial damage. The trouble is we only recognise teeth to be big for our 'inherrited' jaws and so orthodontics see extraction as the solution but obviously the jaws are to small for the teeth and should therefore be expanded. It saddens me that we also collerate health with appearance; obviously evolutionary aspect of looking for primates (healthy beings hide behind a good looking face)
To solve this problem people should raise the awareness of this topic and maybe we can find solutions and proper treatment which can prevent poor growth and development and improve the quality of life of those affected.
written by Marcia Ferry, Nov 13 2013
After practicing the Buteyko Breathing method of over a year and focusing on proper tongue relaxation and it's placement in my mouth, I have noticed wonderful changes in my facial structure. I am so much more relaxed and focused. My overall health is much improved!!!
written by Marcia Ferry, Nov 07 2013
I have been studying the Buteyko Breathing Method through Breathing Normalization - Buteyko Breathing Center in Boulder CO. After a year of focusing on breathing through my nose (in past a chronic mouth breather), I noticed that my cranial bones and brain seemed to be bothering me. I went for some cranioSacral therapy and did some internet research. I feel fine now. I came across your article. I realize that my facial structure has been changing and correcting through proper nose breathing. My face is more wide, my jaw more forward and strong, and less lines on my upper lip. I swallow correctly now, with my tongue forward and pulling on my palate. Thank you for your wonderful article.
Objective beauty?
written by capmikee, Jun 25 2013
I love the information in this article, and I learned a lot from it. But I also found it upsetting. The author consistently equates beauty with health. I can see why a person would do that, but defining an "objective" standard of beauty is not much better than defining a genetic standard of beauty. Remember the fallout from the Dove "Real Beauty Sketches" ad (google "dove real beauty racism" if you didn't see it)!

I would love to give this information a wider audience, but I can't share this particular article in good conscience.

When vegans insist that "ethical" eating is "healthy" eating, they fall into a trap that stops them from considering all the evidence without bias. We should consider ethics and health separately, even when they do sometimes work out to the same practice. Let's not fall into the same trap with health and beauty.
Just Brilliant!
written by Alex Shvartsman, DDS, MAGD, Jun 20 2013
wow. just a brilliant, well put together composition of the facts. great illustrations . I can stare at properly formed human faces for hours as well!
How do I deal with this?
written by George L., Jan 04 2013
My face isn't very developed at all, I have an nose bump and narrow jaws.
Reading the weston price findings are making me more and more depressed. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm 18, male, any help?
Interesting, but no solutions or help offered to those experiencing this condition
written by Lynn, Oct 01 2012
The informtion is enlightening, but I'm disappointed tht there are no solutions and/or help offered to those who suffer from this condition.
Cranial Osteopathy and Visceral Manipulation changes facial structures
written by Malina Chin OTR/L LAc., Aug 18 2012
I have a practice that includes cranial and visceral work. The facial features such as spheniod and maxilla relationship can be changed. I have seen people change the tension of the eyes, even out position of the sphenoid and maxilla and the ethmoid. When there is malposition, the circulation of the cerebral spinal fluids and general connective tissue system is off kilter. Gently manipulation can make a huge difference in people's ability to be free of headaches, have better vision, and improved jaw position. TMJ and teeth grinding can also be relieved.
110 degree angle and eight teeth extracted
written by Anna, Jul 25 2012
This was very informative and reinforces the research I have done for my own health. Eight teeth of mine have been extracted, I have a deviated septum and find it hard to breath, sleep and functin and get aches. Should I have surgery to pull the jaw forward or are ther non surgical options for. More tongue space?
Kind regards
written by Shane, May 26 2012
''JaredBond, Sep 05 2011 ''
I would suggest that both your practitioner & you ,gave up too easily.
The omission ,imo,was not to look at the contributing factors to your complaint.i.e your facial bones not responding to a light wire force.
The real question should be why the device didn't give the result that you both wanted.
To expand your upper jaw,the other cranial bones need to be able to flex & move.
The sutures or joins never fuse while you are alive.So what ''bracing force''is in play that is opposing the desired action.
This is why a work up or detailed diagnosis is required before diving straight into treatment to detail the factors that brought about the underdeveloped jaw& what additional forces are in play now.Usually it comes down to the various muscles of the body acting on the jaw at some distance.

The following often will sabotage treatment unless they are recognized & addressed
Flat feet ,or else overly rigid foot arches ,
Chiropractic treatment espec SOT, which invariably reprograms muscles to contract &very few people have the knowledge of how to recognise much less reverse this process,
& the patient not being willing to explore & clear toxic emotional states espec in adults.
Just my 2 cents worth.
written by Besmah, Oct 08 2011
Great information! Before I was aware of any of this, a bogus dentist claimed that there wasn't enough "room" in my mouth for my wisdom teeth and thus they had to be removed immediately! Of course, like many people today, I trusted the dentist and went ahead with the procedure. As a result, I now have TMJ- every time I open and close my jaws all the way, they click. Also the alignment of my top teeth have shifted slightly from the alignment of my bottom teeth! I have noticed recently that I tend to breath through my mouth because it seems more tasking to breath in my nose.

I'm going to search for a holistic dentist in the D.C./MD/VA area- wish me luck! If you know anything about my TMJ issue due to wisdom teeth extraction, please email me, Thanks!
For all those wanting a cranial expansion and realignment...
written by JaredBond, Sep 05 2011
I tried it with the ALF expanding device, and all it does is splay out your teeth. It did not do what my ALF practitioner explicitly claimed it would do again and again-- she pointed to the "Palatine Process" on an x-ray and said it would significantly advance, which it didn't (Palatine Process is this bone: I arranged the before and after x-rays to prove it, seen here: Furthermore, this treatment comes with claims that bones in your entire head re-adjust and correct asymmetries. You can also tell from the x-rays that they didn't. Your practitioner might present you with complex geometrical analyses of your before and after x-rays that appear to show change, but if you just compare the x-rays themselves, scaled to the same size and on top of each other (as anyone should do who wants to learn the truth), you will see that there's no difference (aside from just being able to tell in person).

In my opinion, these practitioners are making fraudulent claims, and are all too happy to play into your hopes and fantasies. They will suck thousands of dollars from you, and, depending on your tastes, make your teeth look worse. I challenged Dr. Nordstrom to provide me with before and after x-rays that show significant change in any adult patient, and he was unable to do so. Things like the ALF and Homeoblock can move your teeth, expand your palate, and fix your bite, but they will not do the things many practitioners claim (, (However, I still think it's worth a try in children who are still growing. Treatment with something like the ALF is more gentle than the lock-and-key expander I had as a kid.)

There is another technique with similar claims called NCR (, but likewise I would not trust it. (Dean Howell is the inventor of another technique that looks completely bogus: You can see there are lots of desperate people willing to do it here: We're not alone. I would guess that the only way to treat adult cases is with bone-manipulation surgery, but I have not seen any procedure that is truly comprehensive.
written by Don, May 26 2011
"The forward head posture in most individuals creates improper spinal alignment and lack of proper curvature to the spine at critical areas"

I think it's the reverse. It's poor spinal posture, rounded back, lack of lordosis that causes forward head posture. Poor spinal posuture comes from sitting improperly. Chairs and sofas with no lumbar support and which recline back also contribute to poor spinal posture leading to forward head posture. Robin McKenzie explains this well in his book.
written by Veneta, Apr 27 2011
Your foundation totally changed the way I see ugliness and illness! Thank you for that. Now I feel like a have a better understanding of these problems.
But here's a case that bugs me and I don't know how to explain that. It is the son of Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady. She is so into healthy food and lifestyle and he is so beautiful and athletic.. And still their kid has underdeveloped jaw -
Please tell me what do you think? Why did that happen?
Specific exercises for scoliosis
written by Clayton Stitzel, Mar 17 2011
Idiopathic scoliosis is primarily a neurological condition that has its primary effect on the spine, rather than "just a spine condition". With that in mind, it is no wonder scoliosis brace treatment and scoliosis surgery is becoming obsolete rather quickly. The advent of break through prognostic technologies like Scoliscore (genetic testing) and the soon-to-be-released scoliosis blood test are only going to increase the push for early stage scoliosis intervention scoliosis treatment technology as well. Fortunately, we are already well on our way towards prevention of the condition and hope to prove we can alter the natural course of the condition in even high risk genetically predisposed patients soon. Feel free to check out the neuro-muscular based rehab programs we have specifically designed for idiopathic scoliosis.
written by Chris, Mar 06 2011
Lots of good information here.... Thanks
written by Baby bliss flat iron, Feb 09 2011
I love reading your articles on your site. I have learned so much. I think removing my amalgams was the best decision. My health is slowly starting to turn around.
Wide Dental Arch as an adult possible!
written by Suvetar, Aug 29 2010
I have been on a 10 year long Quest to find a solution for my facial problems. Don't get me wrong, I am a 'normal' looking person to everyone who does not know anything about this subject.

There is help for adults! Fact is it doesn't matter if you are a child, adult or even elderly person.
This requires no surgery.

Look for a facial orthodontist, one that specializes in braces and expanders. Ask for functional appliance.
Some orthodontists only do surgeries, others only do braces and no expansion. The Dr. has to specifically specialize and have experience with this to be able to do it correctly.
Ask for slow palatal expansion, most likely they will offer the newest way of widening palates which is the Damon3 braces.
I have started the entire process last week and hopefully will have my expansion (upper and lower) in my mouth by the end of September.
The expansion will affect several bones not just the maxilla but also lateral wall of the inferior nasal cavity, zygomatic and nasal bones,pterygoid plates of the sphenoid bone in the region close to the cranial bone.
If you get an expansion of around 10 mm the width of the nasal cavity at the floor will increase markedly.

Get this done, I've only read good things about it...the bad ones being done by bad orthodontists with no experience.

Remember, it's functional appliance done by facial orthodontists that specialize in braces. Go, go go...
written by DerekChaunessey, Aug 24 2010
And I wonder if having braces previously or even having a permanent retainer on my front six bottom teeth hurt or health maximum development of my face, or potential development to come?
Deviated septum
written by DerekChaunessey, Aug 24 2010
If we have a deviated septum, will switching to a whole foods diet rich in animal food resolve this at some point? I'm twenty-six years old, for the record, so not too young but not too old? I've always mouth breathed, or at least breathed through the mouth and nose at the same time. Very interesting article.
Losing left sided chewing ability
written by Judy Valente, Aug 21 2010
I was wondering about when the best side of my chewing is breaking down and the other side doesn't work well. I wonder how much it would cost to have alternative dental work done to help my jawline and teeth fillings redone?
This sounds like ' a mouthful' to say, but I am sincere about it. I don't want to wait until chewing is a nuisance, and the dentist is either putting more mercury in my mouth, and/or removing the essential 'grinding tools' in my mouth.
Any suggestions?


Judy Valente
memtal or dental
written by m.c., Aug 05 2010
smilies/cool.gif Very Enlightning, i accidently used the incorrect face pic to express my comment, meant to use the cool one, m.c.
written by Stephanie, Jun 18 2010
How can I find an orthodontist near me that does ALF?
Solutions for mature individuals
written by Alex, May 11 2010
This article doesn't specify clearly what we can do to cure malocclusion once we've become adults but I see lots of similarities between malocclusion and another disease called osteomalacia (check it out on Wikipedia) which is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin D and calcium. These two nutrients seem to work hand in hand within the body along with omega-3. Many people have experienced full recovery from osteomalacia by eating food which are rich in these 3 nutrients like wild fat fish (ex:salmon), cod liver oil (with calcium supplements) or, my favorite, raw cheese from happy cows (contains high amount of the 3 nutrients). Happy cows would be cows that can roam all day in the field and are fed natural grass. When cows are fed their natural food Vitamin D content in milk is very high as oppose to your average cow milk which is not even considered a significant source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is the vitamin that is produce by your skin during exposure to midday sunlight but it is fat-soluble meaning that without fat it is useless and won't even be produce by your skin. If you have been depraved of either essential fats like omega-3 or midday sun exposure then you most probably have weak bones that are more and more depleted from their minerals as well as weak muscles, sour tendons and painful joints. Vitamin D taken along with good quality fats and calcium will cure you within 6 to 12 months. Cure means no more pain, better posture (no more scoliosis, lordosis, head tilted foward), healthy teeth and gums, clearer and happier thoughts.
Great article
written by Brian, Apr 14 2010
Great article, an eyeopener.

ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functionals) are a possible solution to this as far as I know. Im currently looking into getting this treatment done myself. Im 26 years old with a narrow face and underdeveloped jaw.
written by Beth, Apr 11 2010
Ok, this article has shed light on things I assumed were bad genetic inheritances for my whole life. I fit the bill mentioned here and got to this article after looking up chin implant surgeries. I too am left wondering what the solution is just too damn late for us weak chinned folk????
written by Elliot Feldman, Apr 07 2010
There's a possible solution to many of these problems. See It's a orthodontic device that can reshape the entire face. I found this article from a link on that site. Anyway it certainly looks interesting.
written by Sally, Mar 30 2010
Thank you for this article. I have a 12 year old daughter that has huge tonsils, is a mouth breather, and is currently receiving orthodontia (head gear) for her overbite. She has trouble breathing; gets tired easily. We've discussed having her tonsils removed because she has a bad sore throat every couple wks, but I would prefer not to go that route if we can make other changes. I have been searching for answers. What can we do now, besides improving her diet? Who would she go to to have her palate widdened and head tilt corrected?
Great article
written by Jennifer Stark, Mar 24 2010
Those people who are looking for a solution, perhaps you can look for a local Buteyko practitioner. The first thing that you learn at a Buteyko seminar or class is how to unblock your nose, and to use it all the time. When you constantly breathe through your nose a lot of the problems mentioned in this article will disappear.
written by Debs, Mar 13 2010
Interesting but overall depressing because there are no solutions really mentioned in this article! Is that because there are no solutions and I'm stuck like this or what?
written by EndlessGrowthEconomicsFailed, Mar 12 2010
I love it when I stumble upon an article such as this which explains/justifies things that I have independently learned through experience and intuitively know to be true.
written by Aleen, Mar 07 2010
Enlightened "big picture" overview! Solutions seem mostly prevention through early nutrition but some later help possible. I'm a victim of maxillo-orthodontia for neck/spine-injured tooth crowding, and my friend TMJ fibromyalgia, just as he describes! What's SOT chiropractic?
Which Modality?
written by Randall, Mar 04 2010
Perhaps I glossed over it, but WHAT MODALITY is the author suggesting to use to fix this structural mess some many of us have been cursed with?

Do I have to go to Brentwood, CA to HIS office or are there other options?

Great article, would love solutions...


written by Melissa Puckett, Feb 12 2010
Awesome,indeed-such an overlooked,under-talked about important problem-never know could answer questions to things such as disorders or dysfunction-great article!
written by Mary, Jan 29 2010
Love your article! I've passed it along to others already.
Vote of Thanks
written by Shubhangi, Jan 26 2010
Dear Author,

I was searching articles related to 'Improper shape of head and growth efficiency in babies' and came across your article. It is amazing. Very well explained the importance of 'Proper facial form'. Thanks for this information.


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 January 2010 14:50