It’s commonly accepted that your face will look like your parent’s faces. The same goes for your teeth. So if you have crooked teeth, then it’s assumed that your parents must have given you their genes for crooked teeth. However, In this blog post, I’m going to argue that there’s is no gene for crooked teeth.
Numerous sources and research papers have shown that even a few hundred years ago, most Americans did not need their wisdom teeth removed. If you look at Native American skulls from these times, you’ll see that they had wide jaws and perfectly straight 32 teeth, and essentially no cavities. Dr. Weston Price found the same thing in the early to mid-1900s in all 5 continents, if people ate naturally, with no Western influences. George Catlin the American painter in his book, Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life, observed that Native Americans who had wide jaws and perfect teeth were healthier, stronger, and more resilient.
Both observed that as we start to adopt Western diets (soft/processed foods, refined sugars, canned foods, etc.), people’s teeth came in more crooked and crowded, with more narrow jaws. Bee Wilson, in her book, Consider the Fork, A History of How We Cook and Eat, cites anthropologic studies showing that only the rich in old England could afford newly invented metal cutlery. As a result, the aristocracy was found to have overbites (upper front teeth in front of the lower teeth) long before the poor peasants. The same was found in Chinese culture as well.
Yes, genes give you a blueprint for a range of possible genetic expressions, but it’s your environment while developing inside the womb, and what you’re exposed to after birth that determines how your mouth and teeth develop. This process is called epigenetics. So far, the known risk factors for crooked teeth (malocclusion) are prematurity, soft foods, bottle-feeding, thumb sucking, pacifier use, toxins, and nasal congestion. I’ve also speculated that perhaps even fluoride may have an influence as well.
Here are two examples of how your environment can be a significant factor in how crooked your teeth become. One of the residents that work with me recounts that her grandmother was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States at the age of 5. She was the firstborn and had 9 subsequent siblings, all born in the US. She is the only one with straight teeth, as well as being the healthiest of all her siblings, even the youngest one.
One of my operating room nurses grew up in St. Kitts, a small island in the Caribbean Sea.…