See the lack of resemblance? Check out the overall roundness of the Swiss girl compared to my more narrowed facial structure. Compare my nasal passage to hers. Cheek bones? Jaw? And, wow, how about them teeth! This isn't due to genetics, as many of you know. It's all about nutrition during the developmental years, as Price discovered. Damn you, margarine, sugar, and white flour!
The other day I was thinking about how it might feel the have the facial features characteristic of the healthy cultures in Weston Price's studies as opposed to the narrow palate, brace-straightened teeth, weak jaw, narrowed nasal passage, and lackluster cheek bones that characterize my own facial structure. If I were all of the sudden blessed with an optimal facial structure and all the teeth the good Lord intended me to have, would I breath easier? Speak better? Smile more fully and more often? Have less tension in my jaws? Feel a heightened sense of well-being? While it's interesting -- if not somewhat depressing -- to imagine such a possibility, I never thought once that this would ever be achievable. I guess you can say that's why I've come to terms with my deformed self. I can't change it, can I? What other choice do I have besides acceptance of my not-so-optimal lot in life? Sigh.
I was impressed by a study about two twins recently referenced in Wise Traditions, the Weston A. Price Foundation journal. One twin received palatal expansion, while the other did not. Here's a photo that shows the dramatic difference in the two -- not just in their teeth, but their overall facial structure:
Impressive, eh? It's readily apparent that dental appliances can make a huge difference towards regaining the facial structure of our ancestors. But I'm far beyond the developmental time period during which such devices can help me attain a facial appearance closer to that of the human genetic blueprint, right? These things only work for the growing child or teenager. At age 18, the bone plates are fused, and there's no budging them. Once you're an adult, there's no room for any adjustments, right? Well, I began to wonder: Is there such a thing as adult palatal expansion? And, if so, would it make any difference health-wise if I were to apply such technology to my own head? Let's just find out. (Google, you are my friend.)
The first website I came across, called Facial Development, is absolutely fascinating. It's authored by Theodore R. Belfor, DDS, who has a clinic in New York state that actually specializes in expanding adult palates using a dental appliance called a Homeoblock. From his website:
The Homeoblock™ appliance is a revolutionary patented oral device that is much like a retainer in looks, but the results go way beyond teeth straightening...The Homeoblock™ appliance works with the body, so that physiological changes occur naturally; developing the bones of the face and resulting in the strengthening of facial muscles. These changes occur due in large part to each person’s genetic potential Often, facial development does not reach its potential due to the food we eat, polluted air and poor dental care to name a few.
Wow. A dentist who acknowledges that facial development is influenced by diet? I wonder if he knows about Dr. Price. Browsing the website further, I came upon a paper that Dr. Belfor wrote called, "Facial Changes as a Result of Palatal Expansion in Adult Patients Using the Homeoblock Appliance." Check out this before and after 3d image taken of one of his patients who used a Homeoblock:
Look closely and notice the differences in the cheek bones, chin, and lips. Pretty incredible. So not only does palatal widening make for straighter teeth, it also induces significant changes in the overall facial structure -- even in adults. Dr. Belfor markets his work as a way of creating a more youthful appearance in addition to straightening teeth. An interesting effect of palatal widening is reduced wrinkles. But he's also very enthusiastic about other changes that occur with the procedure (emphasis mine):
I am experiencing the most incredible excitement on a daily basis. I routinely expand adult underdeveloped maxilla and mandible taking the teeth along for the ride. There are many different goals, as many as there are different patients. However, the result is always the same; more prominent cheekbones, wide smiles, and strong jaws!"
Prominent cheek bones? Wide smiles? Strong jaws? Is this guy Weston Price incarnate? So, wait a minute, how can any of this actually work if the bones are fused by age 18, as is commonly believed? Well, let's let Dr. Belfor answer that one:
Bone is essentially plastic in nature. Tension and intermittent pressure persuade the bones to redefine at any age. In fact, our typical patient is between 30 and 60 years old. In the upper dental arch nature has provided a suture line front to back between the two bones that form the palate. This allows for an easy widening process and as the palate expands, the cheekbones as well, creating more prominence.
Okay, so maybe there's a chance for a "deformie" like me to experience optimal facial structure after all! I would like a second opinion, though. I mean, isn't there a possibility of teeth relapsing or other complications happening? Let's see what one scientific study had to say about adult palatal widening procedures and the risks involved, in this case using an implement called a Haas expander:
Rapid maxillary expansion (RME) in the adult is thought to be an unreliable procedure with several adverse side effects and, consequently, surgically assisted RME is considered the preferred procedure...Rapid maxillary expansion using a Haas expander was examined in 47 adults and 47 children...The results indicate that nonsurgical RME in adults is a clinically successful and safe method for correcting transverse maxillary
This study had a follow-up time of an average 5.9 years, and the patients' teeth remained in place. Here's a dramatic before-and-after image from the study showing one case of palatal expansion, a 30-year-old female:
Now that's just amazing. 30-years-old and there's still room for correction of the dental arch. I wonder, though, are there any health benefits to having the palate expanded and the resultant craniofacial changes that take place? Dr. Belfor, what do you think?
Orthopedic jaw development, particularly arch expansion, allows for improved sinus drainage and widens airflow passages. This can result in snoring reduction and lessened symptoms of sleep apnea...Voice enhancement. Improved facial balance and skin tone. Arresting and reversing the premature aging of the face.
Sounds to me like it would be worth it. Only one problem, I have no idea how much the procedure actually costs. I'm sending an e-mail to Dr. Belfor to find out. Also, I'm going to ask him if he's influenced at all by Weston A. Price, as he seems right there with the 1930s dentist philosophically. If anybody out there has more information on the procedure, please leave your comments.
Here's one more link with an article and video on adult palate expansion: "Skull Stretching."