Future Of Humanity Podcast with Carl Taylor
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Crooked Teeth, Breathing, and a Hidden Epidemic of the Human Jaw – Episode 2

  • May 30, 2018

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The Recap

Dr. Paul Ehrlich is a Bing Professor of Population Studies, President of Conservation Biology at Stanford University, Adjunct Professor of the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia, and author and coauthor of more than 1,100 scientific papers and articles in the popular press as well as over 40 books. In addition, he is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. He is well known for his work on the consequences of population growth.

Dr. Sandra Kahn, has 25 years of clinical experience in orthodontics and is part of craniofacial anomalies teams at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University. She is an international lecturer, has published two books, Let’s Face It and GOPex – Good Oral Posture Exercises!, and has translated Dr. John Mew’s The Cause and Cure of Malocclusion into Spanish. She is currently the only Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics that practices exclusively Biobloc Orthotropics.

In this episode, authors of Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic, Dr. Sandra Khan and Dr. Paul Ehrlich discuss the evolution of the human jaw throughout time and how today, humans face a pressing epidemic of shrinking jaws. They state that the decreasing size of the human jaw has created more breathing and allergy problems and suggest that parents should address the problem by monitoring their children’s jaw growth. In order for people to become more aware of their dental health, Dr. Kahn and Dr. Ehrlich urge people to ask their orthodontists questions on why teeth must be removed, whether for health or cosmetic reasons.

Episode Highlights

[04:04] – How the book Jaws developed over dinner

[09:09] – Importance of wisdom teeth removal

[10:27] – Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s research for the book

[11:56] – The changing diet and industrialization of food

[12:47] – The history of chewing soft foods and today’s epidemic

[16:00] – Lack of room for teeth in one’s mouth leads to sleep deprivation

[17:57] – Why no one has spoken up about the epidemic of the human jaw

[21:28] – The shrinkage of the human jaw and allergies

[26:21] – Properly developing the jaw for kids

[28:28] – The dangers on society of not addressing the epidemic

[31:10] – Only a several decades left to fix the pressing problems impacting humanity

[33:49] – The best way to fix the problem is to prevent it

[35:21] – Is there still hope for teens and adults to rectify teeth problems

[38:16] – What is the best mouth posture

[41:58] – Did hunter and gatherers ever snore

[43:24] – Warning signs of jaw problems for parents to look out for in their kids

[47:24] – Chewing gum strengthens jaws and jawlines

[49:07] – Optimistic or pessimistic for the future of humanity

Tweetable Quotes

Links Mentioned

Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic

Paul Ehrlich’s Stanford Biography

Sandra Khan’s Biography


Read Full Transcript

Carl: Welcome back, or if this is your first time, welcome to the show. I'm Carl Taylor, and this is Future of Humanity podcast, where we discuss and explore just what is coming next for the future of humanity. Today's a really great show. I'm really excited to be able to share this with you. I'm joined, not by one, but two amazing experts. We're discussing a fascinating topic, which is of their latest book.
Carl: It's all about a hidden epidemic that society, and at least western society, is facing. It relates to our jaws. Yes, I'm talking about the mouth and the jaws that we have our teeth in.You see, our jaws are getting smaller, our teeth more crocked and crowded. This might sound superficial, but there are a lot of difficulties that can come about from our teeth and our jaws, especially when it comes to breathing.
Carl: Today I'm joined by Dr. Sandra Kahn, who is a graduate from the university of Mexico, and the University of Pacific in San Francisco. She has 25 years of clinical experience in orthodontics. She's a part of the craniofacial anomalies team at UCSF and at Stanford University. Her graduate work at UC Buckley on physical anthropology and human craniofacial growth and development. She's an international lecturer and an author of three books; Let's Face it, GoPex, Good Oral Posture Exercises and Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic, which is the book we're talking about today.
Carl: We're joined today by her coauthor of Jaws. His name is Dr. Paul Ehrlich. He is a bing professor of population studies. He's also the president of The Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and an adjunct professor of University of Technology in Sydney. He's also the author and coauthor of more than 1100 scientific papers and articles in the popular press as well as over 40 books.
Carl: He's a prolific writer. He's probably best known for his bestselling book, The Population Bomb, which he wrote back in 1968. As well as that, he's well known for his efforts in alerting the public to the many intertwined drivers that are pushing humanity to a collapse of civilization.
Carl: I'm thrilled to be joined by these amazing people. If you have young children, you do not want to miss this episode. It is amazing and you will learn so much. If you don't have children, but you've had teeth out or you know someone who's had braces or orthodontic work, you will find this absolutely fascinating. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of their book as well. Let's get into the interview.
Carl: Super excited for today's episode. Honored to have Dr. Sandra Kahn and Dr. Paul Ehrlich joining me. the authors of an amazing book called, The Story of a Hidden Epidemic. Thank you so much for joining us. Welcome.
Paul: Great. Pleasure.
Sandra: Thank you.
Carl: I'm fascinated to know, it talks about in the forward of the book and I know you guys have mentioned this, that really this book came about from a conversation over dinner. Talk to me about that. How over dinner, did you all of a sudden start talking about this epidemic facing humanity with our jaws?
Paul: In a sense that's my territory because the way we got into this was, because I was doing research with a brilliant ecologist at Mexico's national university. He was friends with a couple from Mexico and the US that were running a beautiful little eco-lodge called [inaudible 00:04:26], and working with him trying to conserve Mexican biodiversity, particularly jaguars at [inaudible 00:04:34]. He thought we ought to get together because Sandra and her husband David, live in the Bay Area. Sandra was born in Mexico, but is an American citizen, and I should say a US citizen. It's really big. Mexico is part of America as it turns out. David was born in the US but raised in Mexico.
Paul: [Hararo 00:04:55] introduced us. We became friends because they lived nearby and we had common interests in conservation. We started having dinners because it turned out we both liked fermented grape juice, which is now actually made and sold in Australia. They call it wine I think, grape wines. Then Sandra started talking to me about problems she was having in her practice with her children. I'll turn it over to her.
Sandra: Well, we obviously don't have many dentist friends, but we always managed to make any conversation roll down to teeth. As we got together socially, I knew what Paul's interest were and being an evolutionary biologist. I just started dealing with this problem with my own child, with my own son. My son was starting to snore as a baby and he was a mouth breather. I saw that his state wasn't developing. I started looking into the solution for my son. My profession didn't really have a lot of answers. I didn't have anything needs really help the most trying everything.
Sandra: Knowing that Paul was interested in the future of humanity, I really started putting two ideas together that, this wasn't just my son's problem. It was a problem that I was seeing in all the kids that were growing up in his age group and in my practice. I started bringing these ideas out to Paul. Immediately, he thought that there was something there, and he thought we should look into it and possibly inform people that this is something where we're going, because orthodontists traditionally thought a lot of the problems with the small jaws and the crowding of teeth is really due to genetics. That that's just a [inaudible 00:06:41]. Having an evolutionary biologist tell me that, there is no way our teeth could have changed as fast as the changes that I was seeing in our patients.
Carl: That's fascinating. That grabbed me in the book, because I'm 32. As a teenager I had braces, I had numerous teeth out. My grandfather was actually a dentist. My grandfather used to tell my mom that the problems with my sister and my teeth is all my dad's fault, because it genetically had come from him. That was really interesting. I very quickly, after I finished reading your book, I called out my dad. I was like, "Guess what dad, don't worry it's not your fault. Very great book. it's not your fault. You can go back and tell mom it's not genetic."
Paul: This was enormously embarrassing to me, because as Sandra explained to me, there was one thought that the big problem was not excising your jaws enough. [inaudible 00:07:35] came to me that I've been staring at the biggest environmental change that humanity has ever gone through. What would clearly result to that change? What was our biggest environmental change? We settled down to practice agriculture, we stopped hunting and gathering. Then we industrialized and we ate an industrialized diet, and we lived indoors instead of outdoors. It was stunning to me that I had missed the significance of this thing that was right in front of my eyes. We started thinking and talking about it, and the result is the book, Jaws.
Carl: It's truly a fascinating read. As I said, on a personal level it connected a lot with me because having being through braces, numerous teeth out, my grandfather being a dentist and started having some of those stories. Then also as I've mentioned to you before we started this episode, that I'm actually booked in in two weeks to have all four of my wisdom teeth taken out. During the book, I started thinking going, actually hold on, is that right? Why did I accept that as standard?
Paul: This is her department. Let's open your mouth, let's get a free exam here.
Sandra: You do have, and I'm not trying to advertise for anyone, but you do have the best orthodontist in the planet in your country. Best orthodontist that I know of is in Melbourne.
Paul: I know him, Simon Wong.
Carl: Let's give him a plug, Simon Wong, awesome.
Sandra: If you meet at consultations, it's something that you need to look into. Everybody that has this suggestion that you should have the wisdom teeth removed, you really should look into it. At some point when you're an adult, there might not be a better option because you might not have enough room. It might just be something that's done because everybody has it done. You have to think a little bit more about, what's going on, what's the reason, look at the x-ray.
Sandra: The issue about writing this book for me was, bringing to the lay person all this information, because it's not something that came about from me being a dentist, it came about with me and the experience of my own child. I'm not resting him long enough, or I gave him the chemical benefit's of breast milk, but I pumped it up and working mom, somebody else breast feed them, or bottle [inaudible 00:09:54].
Sandra: I bypassed that and then I moved into ... I weened into great soul foods and paps, and into hamburgers and very soft foods. This is something that as a mom that I learned. The knowledge that you have as just a lay person owning a mouth shouldn't be on the mind. The experts don't know everything. You should be able to understand what's going on, and that's the reason that this book is so important.
Paul: In writing the book, I read about 400 papers, many of them pointed out to me by Sandra. There's one from the national institute of health in the US, and you can find it or I can find it and send it to you. The paper, which says that most wisdom teeth removals are unnecessary. It's well worth looking into. One of the nice things I hope about the book is the fact that virtually every sentence has whatever science there is behind it, so thst you can look it up.
Carl: Absolutely. That was one thing I noticed is, I was reading the book on my Kindle and I got to what seemed like the end, but the Kindle's telling me that I'm only 70% through the book because there was just so many citations and references in the back, which I think is amazing and not enough books do that. Credit to you guys for making sure that everything had it's-
Paul: We'd like to changed the entire orthodontic profession, and if you are going to do that you got to show them where the data are. There aren't data everywhere that we’d like to have, but we think there's a very persuasive scientific case for not extracting teeth in the course of trying to fix up the jaw and so on. We not only stopped chewing a lot, and we had a very interesting discussion at lunch today with somebody who's in charge of much of Stanford University's food operations. She is desperately interested in changing that including the toughness of the food, because they were eating feeding our students a more and more liquid diet.
Paul: When was the last time you went to a restaurant and happily ate a tough steak? Your tendons are used to eat a, the hamburger is damn near liquid. The other thing we did as we industrialized was move indoors. That's where the allergens are concentrated, that's where your nose gets stuffed. Many kids spend the first two years of their lives in nursery care, where they have perpetual stuffy noses. Yet we know from experiments that if you stuff a monkey's nose, it's jaw development goes right to hell. That's what we think are some of the factors leading to-
Carl: Sweet. That brings up a great point. Let's talk about it. We touched on many of them but the list is probably going on. I'm still not quite clear what is the problem, and what are the courses of it. Maybe lets go through that, some of that history and talking about the chewing of soft food.
Sandra Kahn: The first thing we need to say is, we called our book, a hidden epidemic. What's the epidemic? Everybody's wearing braces, everybody's the teeth are crowded, the jaws are too small to house the teeth. Also people are starting to have issues with their sleep or they're having interrupted sleep at night. These two issues are related, and they are definitely growing in our society.
Sandra Kahn: We look at the history Paul talked about, we moved from being hunters and gatherers, into agriculture, into heavy industrialization and even more and more as we become more comfortable with technology. We really have to know that these are things that are changing health overall. One of the very interesting books or histories that we got when we were putting together this book was, we read a work that's based on the 1800s by somebody named John Caitlyn, that actually went and lived with the Native Americans.
Sandra Kahn: They actually didn't have issues with crowding, didn't have issues with wisdom teeth. They were also keeping their mouths closed, and they were a lot healthy. They weren't having the child mortality that the Whites were having. One of the nicknames for the Whites that they had in addition to pale face was black mouths, because the Whites kept their mouth open.
Sandra Kahn: He was so impressed by the importance of keeping the mouth closed that he actually calls his book, Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life. This is even the title because it was really important. He knew that there was an issue then. We're talking about the middle 1800s, so we're talking of almost 200 years ago. We know that this was going on. Obviously, the Native Americans were living close to the way the hunter-gatherers were going. You have great research from your country too. We have the aboriginals that have a lot more room in the teeth and I don't know if [inaudible 00:14:47].
Sandra Kahn: He did research allover the world in the early 1900s. He was the head of the dental society in the US. He traveled to Australia and he found very interestingly in Australia, when the aboriginals moved into reservations. Depending on the age that they moved into the reservation, their jaws changed. You had very similar siblings genetically, and they were at different ages when they moved into the reservations. Then their teeth became crowded.
Sandra Kahn: He has a book about the generation, because he made that to, not only crowding but also to decay cavities, and with gum disease. Your gum gets thinned out when your teeth become loose. This was not happening in the aboriginals when they were moving in the more rural environments.
Paul: We brought hunter-gatherer teeth into the industrial age and hunter-gatherer jaws into the industrial age. We're seeing the results. For instance, the introduction of the book is written by the world's expert on stress. It turns out that if you don't have room for teeth in your mouth, you often don't have room for the entire trunk. It tends if you lay back slop back at night, starts you snoring. If it goes too far back, it gives you what's called sleep apnea, which is just interrupted sleep because you can't breathe.
Paul: You can't breathe, you basically panic, and so your entire system goes into the fighter flight mode. If you have sleep apnea, you spend too much of the time when you should be sleeping and restoring your memories, and repairing and rebuilding your body and so on, as if you're being chased by a tiger. That's a huge stressor.
Paul: If you know the literature, one of the things that stress does to you, it makes you more likely to have heart disease, it makes you more likely to have diabetes, it makes you more likely to get cancer. It makes you even more likely, now [inaudible 00:16:51] beginning to show to get eventually Alzheimer's disease. It makes you, if other people are stressed get killed on a highway, and now people who claim that the number of highway deaths resulting from sleep deprived drivers, particularly truck drivers, is higher than the number of drunkard drivers. If you go into a hospital to be operated on where they don't treat the interns right, and make them sleep deprived, it's like having a drunk operating on you. This is a huge wide thing, coming from a huge environmental change which we've ignored.
Carl: That's one of the things that fascinates me. You even mention in the book that, what you talk about and the things you learnt isn't widely known within the dental and orthodontic circles. If it's been going on for so long and I agree with you. I did a test before this episode. I put a post on my Facebook and just asked the question; how many of you have had teeth removed and braces? The number of comments and replies was outstanding. Why do you think it is that no one's really picked up on this before, and no one's been talking about this?
Sandra Kahn: It's hard to say what's going on with the healthcare system because it's not really geared for health, it's really geared in all of medicine, it's geared more to maintenance of symptoms so that you can actually be surviving and be okay while just addressing the symptoms. Crooked teeth are a symptom. Somebody that I always like to mention is doctor [John Neil 00:18:21] because he's the one that really got me tuned into the technique that I ended up using with my own son, which is called orthotropic and we're renamed [inaudible 00:18:33], just because it's easier to understand everything moving forward, to give more room.
Sandra Kahn: He has been doing this for 50 years. His son is now doing the same thing and they've published articles, and they've published a lot of very important research including identical twins that were treated to different techniques. They posted another paper about [inaudible 00:18:55], which actually is proposing that this problem with the jaws is a disease in it'self. It needs to be addressed and cured. The teeth are not just the symptom.
Sandra Kahn: He's been doing this for a long time, but dealing with growth or helping to cure the problem, or to prevent it, it takes a little bit more time, and also more focus. It's not as easy as waiting until the problem has already shown it'self and going, okay let's deal with the symptom. To really be able to go in early and be a step ahead and predict, and be able to keep the symptom from ever happening, is always going to be hard.
Carl: As a marketer, I know it's very hard to sell prevention, it's far easier to sell the cure. I can understand the human psychology of it, yeah. You can make more money but just the psychology of humans, we'll do far more to get a cure than we will to prevent something from happening.
Paul: It's the same with the other huge environmental problems. A lot cheaper and easier to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, than to try and rescue society when the planet is four degrees hotter, and the weather has gone totally to hell. The case of almost everything. Also professionals, and I can say it for university professors, tend to be very conservative. If they're making money, and they know what they are doing, and they are getting plenty of customers why the hell change?
Paul: Of course, problem is to change the growth patterns, or restore a proper growth pattern. In the jaw, or in the leg, or anywhere else, it takes time and effort on the part of the patient. Whereas if all you have to do is slap in some metal and move the teeth around, it's very easy. People think the bone is like concrete, not at all. Bones are really alive. It's always changing. Your teeth are always going to be moving around if they're crowded.
Paul: All you do in orthodontics generally is move them into a nice pattern, and then put in a retainer because they won't stay in that pattern. That's easy and it's temporary; whereas the problem of taking a four year old and making sure over the next decade that the growth pattern of the jaw is proper and goes to a large jaw, where the teeth all have room. That takes time and effort. The best thing to do of course is to get everybody chewing early on.
Sandra Kahn: Definitely, it's something that's more defactorial like most issues that affect human's health. If we think about, for example the allergies, the allergies are a huge increment to a problem, we see more allergies now. We go back to Caitlyn, when he was living with the Native Americans, they were living outdoors. They had better jaws and their mouths were closed. Those of us who have moved indoors, where there's more allergens, there's more particles in the air that we're breathing, so we're going to have a tendency to have more allergies.
Sandra Kahn: We looked at research that was very compelling that neither Paul or I would be involved with because it won't be ethical for us today. It's a research that has been done on rhesus monkeys, [inaudible 00:22:05] 50 years ago. What he did was, he plugged their noses or put things in their mouth so that the tongue could not go to the roof of the mouth, and the monkey's mouth didn't develop. We started getting crowding in their throat, cavity became deformed. We know that if we're not breathing properly, we're hanging our mouths open, our nose is not working.
Sandra Kahn: After all in anatomy you always talk about use it or lose it. If a child never walks he's not going to develop his legs, so the same thing with the nose. The nose filters the air, warms the air, moisturizes the air. It produces important chemicals that have anti-bacterial components. it's very important to use the nose. If we bypass the nose, we're going to spiral into a lot of different ailments. It's more just like [inaudible 00:22:55]. We got to get a group of people working at the same team. It's not just one profession or one special [inaudible 00:23:02].
Paul: To an evolutionary biologist, the nose is fascinating because it has all those functions, and evolution designed it to carefully make the air flow go so those functions work. The idea that you just have two different tubes that go to the lungs, one through the mouth and one through the nose and it doesn't make any difference, which one you use is just crazy. It's also crazy to think that somehow tonsils and adenoids are things that they just are there, that don't have any real function, and so on. If a kid is having trouble breathing or something you take out the adenoids, you take out the tonsils. Actually, the large size of those organs is usually a sign of mouth breathing. Too much other stuff that should have been filtered out of the nose has to be filtered out by the tonsils and adenoids, which swells them. There's all kinds of connections here, and we're trying to-
Carl: Let's talk about that for a second. I mean mouth breathing, we've mentioned that a few times. I'm aware of what you are talking about. For those listening they might be going, what are they talking about mouth breathing? Is it as simple as that, people breathing through their mouth?
Sandra Kahn: Mouth breathing is a problem, but that's not the only problem. If we hung our mouth open, regardless of if you are breathing through your nose or your mouth, when we hung our mouth open we're going to have a tendency to grow down and back. Once we do that, the jaws will get narrow, and we'll also impinge on the airway. The airway is a tube that takes air either from the nose or the mouth into the lungs. If you think about it very mechanically, we can breathe through a fire hose which is very big, or you can try to breath through a cocktail straw.
Sandra Kahn: If the jaws are too far back, and there's not enough room for the tongue, and the tongue has to partially live inside the throat, then you are going to be breathing through a narrow area. The airway will be narrow. It's all connected, but it's we don't know exactly chicken or egg but we know that there's an environment that makes you hung your mouth open, and that's what makes your mouth grow. That could be some allergies, but it can also be from not being strong enough because you were not born into the proper foods. Even if you're breathing through the nose, if you're just at rest you hung your mouth open.
Sandra Kahn: I love for parents to look and observe children because this is something that I get all the time. That people that read my work they say, "You ruined my life because I go in I see cute little kids waiting in the sideline of the soccer game or playing in the playground, now I see that they all have their mouths open. I yell at them, close your mouth." They all have their mouth just hanging open. It's something that you observe and it's just common place in our society. Being more common doesn't make it healthy or normal.
Paul: It's a special problem of development with things like jaws, where things have to match. In the process of development, if you don't have any teeth in the lower jaw, then the teeth in the upper jaw don't know how far to grow. They don't get the signals back, because all of development is a combination of genetics interacting with an environment. For the jaws to develop properly, part of the environment has to be the opposite jaw, and that's why it's so important that one of the things we emphasize in the book that the kids at least eight hours a day or so, should have their mouths closed, their teeth in light contact, and their tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth. That will lead to the proper development of that part of the face.
Paul: It's hard for people to realize that the gentle pressures, the signals you get from the contact, are really important in seeing two of the things develop properly. If your eyeballs weren't in contact with your skull, then your eye sockets would not grow properly, and so on. it's a standard thing but particularly important in the jaw the tongue, and the teeth on both the maxilla and the mandible.
Paul: By the way the upper jaw, most people don't realize, that it's just not teeth stuck to the bottom of the skull. That actually there is a jaw bone there that can and does move. One of the really silly things that happens all the time, is in orthodonture, you put something on the upper jaw, to try and tag on the lower jaw, and the process moves the upper jaw back closing your airway even more. There's a lot to learn and there's a lot to adjust in the way we treat people. Again, prevention instead of cure is the way to go.
Carl: Yeah, absolutely. When you think about where this epidemic, this problem ... Touching on epidemic, one of the things I liked that you mentioned in the book is, you said if 10$ of a certain population in the US was in bed sick with the flu, then the media would be all over it saying there's a flu epidemic. Yet you talk about, I think it was in Brazil, about 55% of a certain group of children aged, I can't remember what the age was, were suffering from these problems, yet no one's out there except now you guys saying, hey look there's an epidemic here.
Carl: That was absolutely fascinating. If we project into the future and we think about okay, lets say nothing gets done, let's say the practices of dental and orthodonture don't take into account this research, they continue to go the way they are. For us as a society, what are we looking at potentially happening?
Sandra Kahn: It's not good. It's already causing a lot of misery. We all have somebody in the family or friends that snore. We know that that's a huge percentage, we don't need a study to tell us that because we all know people that snore. The natural progression from snoring if you live long enough is to develop disruptive sleep apnea. It really causes a lot of misery. The end result if we don't do anything it's bleak, it doesn't look great. I don't think we're going to disappear as a population, but it's definitely going to be more and more difficult to thrive and have better lives. We're going to have more and more of these diseases of westernization or western disease. The stress is going to go up. It's just that if you look at what's going on the last 100 years; you could see what direction we're going in.
Paul: Since I got into this, I discovered that my daughter went on a CPAP machine, which has made her life much better. This is a machine that you wear all night long, that keeps your airway open. It helps you breath so you don't get sleep apnea. It turns out that we've run into all kinds of people who have these problems. In fact, we have a friend in Australian whose wife went through an operation that Sandra, more or less advised against, and has been in misery over sleep apnea now for years. Basically, ruining her life.
Paul: When you look to the future you can answer your own question. These treatments like CPAP machines are expensive. Cancer is expensive. Heart disease is expensive. Diabetes is expensive. You have to ask yourself, what is society going to be willing to pay for to avoid this misery? How long are they going to be willing to keep trying to treat the symptoms without dealing with the basic causes of the ... There's a general transition.
Paul: As you know that the medical profession has long recognized a way from diseases that are transmissible by viruses and bacteria, and into the diseases that are basically related to the jaw epidemic in one way or another. The sleep and the sleep apnea and so on. It's expensive and it's silly because it could be changed, but we don't seem to be moving in that direction. Of course some, people make lots of money on it.
Carl: Do you think that it will ultimately change the shape of human faces to come, or do you think we'll just keep fixing it like we currently do? Everyone wants the movie star smile but you talk about the old hunter-gatherers basically had the movie star smile without all the expensive work required.
Paul: Want to have a grim prediction?
Carl: Yeah, please.
Paul: I think we've got a few decades at most to solve the whole array of environmental problems, so toxification of the planet, [inaudible 00:31:25] of diversity, the climate disruption, we're in deep trouble. My big hope for this book and so on, is for several decades to save a lot of people a lot of misery. Then civilizations are going to collapse, there won't be any more CPAP machines and so on, but we will probably return to the hunter gatherer lifestyle, which may very well give the people, the remnant society's very strong jaws, but not many of the benefit's that we all like to have.
Sandra Kahn: A lot more folks or at least in this part of my profession because I know anybody that has a four year old today will have a chance to have access to this information. Not only because of Jaws our book, but there's several groups and we mentioned them on Jaws. There's several groups that are already looking at this. There's collaboration between dentists, and physicians, and nutritionists, and behavioral scientists. We're starting to collaborate and we are looking at this. The people that have young children they will have access to a lot more information, because this is basically, let me say the rabbit is out of the hat and really the information is out there. There's the internet, there's programs like yours.
Sandra Kahn: A lot of people are going to know about this. I do foresee very in a very short period where an army of parents, picketing, demanding early treatment for their children. They're not going to go to the orthodontist and say, my four year old looks like the mouth is open and he's not going to be caught in. They 're not going to accept the answer, let's wait until he's 12 and all the teeth are crowded to pull a couple teeth. When they say pull, they're going to refuse extraction and retract the treatments. They're going to have to say, I want to prevent this problem because I have information, information is power. I think this is one of those things like Paul says.
Paul: I agree with her on this. over the next few decades we could make a huge amount of progress. Whether we'll make similar progress on the other issues it's an open question, everybody can settle it. You probably haven't heard but we have a president named Donald Trump, who's a genuine moron trying to wreck the environment and being very successful at it. You can make your own decisions later, but what Sandra says is true. The potential is there to solve this problem for most human beings by preventing the problem.
Carl: I agree. That's the whole reason that this podcast exists actually, is to build awareness of issues just like this. I agree with you Paul. I think that the potential over the next few decades, when I look to the future I see multiple amazing futures, utopian futures and I see horrible dystopian futures as well. I think we have a choice and it comes to getting more awareness for more people to be aware and having discussions like we're having; I think can ultimately change the course. We can vote and we're more informed with the decisions that will help shape our society. I agree that getting this information out is really important.
Carl: I suppose like the biggest take away I took from the book Sandra was, as you say I was like well question what the dentist or orthodontist says to me. Don't just take, you need to have this tooth out. Maybe get a second or third opinion. Ask them to explain why. Is it just purely for cosmetic reasons or is there actually an issue here that they're trying to address, and what is that issue? That was the big take away.
Carl: The other big take away sadly for me was that, it really seemed to be saying that as a parent looking after your kids there's a lot of hope. For the rest of us, who may be past our teenage and childhood years, there may not be too much we can do. Is that true? Are we resigned to our mouth is now the way it is because we're through our 20s and 30s and onwards, or is there still options open to the rest of us?
Sandra Kahn: You can definitely improve anybody's situation if you start doing some [inaudible 00:35:27] exercises, and you start focusing on breathing better, and keeping your teeth in light contact, and seek treatments that will actually bring things forward, you can do a lot. I don't specialize in adults, but we have a section in the book which addresses adult problems, which usually starts with the complain of, my husband is snoring can we do something about this?
Sandra Kahn: There's [inaudible 00:35:50] about doing very successful treatment in adults. one of them is opening extraction spaces. Actually, somebody has a big [inaudible 00:35:58] pull out, and they go to one of our fluoridationist or airway centric clinician. They actually put the braces or whatever they do the expanders. They open up room of the teeth that were pulled. That is incredibly soothing to people that have this done, because it gives more room to the tongue. The tongue is not stuck in the back, and there's surgeries that can go from maybe [inaudible 00:36:25] we need some of the tongue to really doing surgery to advance both jaws.
Sandra Kahn: I do recommend the surgery because I see that the improvement in quality of life is spectacular. When you have a good surgeon, there's not a lot of them that are good, but if you find a very good surgeon to do this surgery, it will add years and quality to your life beyond what you can even imagine. I know it's hard to think about surgery, but there's things that ... It's definitely more complicated the older you get, but there's roads that you can get the full benefit just like if you were four years old, but you do have to consider things like surgery.
Carl: Not that I like the idea of surgery. It is good to know that there are options maybe for me, but for anyone else who's ... for the others listening they might be seating there, especially when they read the book. They might be like well I could help my kids but I can't help myself, so that's good to know. One of the things that I do want to touch on is in the book you talk a lot and you've mentioned it here a few times. The idea of keeping your mouth closed and your teeth lightly touching.
Carl: While reading the book you can't help you go hold on how I'm I doing it? I was aware that I closed my mouth, first I thought not a mouth breather, and then a little bit later you talked are your teeth actually touching? It's like no and since reading the book I've got to tell you I've been far more conscious, I try to make sure I do it. I was doing a little bit of research online, and it seems as though there's a lot of information saying the opposite online.
Carl: Saying that the best mouth posture is actually you have a little gap between your teeth, you shouldn't have them touching. How do we know who to trust, how do we know who's right and wrong there's so much information out there. If someone else had their dentist tell them no they shouldn't be touching, and then you are saying they should.
Sandra Kahn: That's a little bit of the [inaudible 00:38:13] of the Paul theory. I learned in dental school that teeth need to be apart, and our enamel is sacred. When you look at hunter-gatherers you see that there's quite a bit of wear. The dentistry that we've mechanically been providing to our patients may not be conducive to health. Part of the reason somebody came up with the idea of having the teeth apart, is so that there's no wear.
Sandra Kahn: Now we know that [inaudible 00:38:44] theory that it's very important to have that contact. You think about it, it makes a lot of sense. it's not something that's shared by almost anyone that I've talked to. Even people that understand you should have your tongue in the roof of the mouth, and you should breathe through your mouth. They always talk about the teeth being a little separate, so that you can keep them from damaging themselves; you are tightening your teeth. That was something that was hard for me to understand. The other side of your question I cannot keep my teeth and my tongue back why? Because my tongue doesn't sit.
Sandra Kahn: To be able to sit your tongue comfortably you need to have at least 44 millimeters, 42 or 44 millimeters of width. Which if you look at a preindustrial skull you'll see the width was very large. When you don't have the architecture it's impossible. Impossible for you to really when you go to sleep and you relax, to really keep the teeth [inaudible 00:39:36], because your tongue will spill in the back, even if your lips are together. That is one of the most difficult concepts that I had to deal with when I started it 10 years ago in reading about this theory. University practitioners almost nobody shares that concept, so that's one of the concept really needs to be changed. Also with research.
Speaker 2: Just think about it for a minute. How many times have you heard about people suffering from a little loss of wear on their teeth? The big issues are braces, crooked teeth, tooth decay and so on. All of which not related to whether or not you haven't balanced your teeth down a little bit. As a matter of fact, we know that people in the past lived very good lives with [inaudible 00:40:27] teeth. In fact some conditions like [inaudible 00:40:31] where people are grinding their teeth too much.
Speaker 2: One of the cures is to actually grind them further, and let them come to the proper kind of contact. We can't do the experiments we'd love to do. Obviously it'd be wonderful for us, if we could take 10000 kids and raise them on tough food. Let's see them for four years wean them all into rocks. Outdoors without nasal allergies and take another 10000 and let them live the normal industrial life and see what happens. We are very explicit in the book on what the data are like; it's a combination of a huge natural experiment, there is. The best book ever written in biology had no experiments in it at all; and that was Darwin's origin of species.
Speaker 2: We have a huge natural experiment, which is still ongoing because some people are exposed to the industrialization, and others aren't. We have a historical record of what happened. For instance if you look at the jaws of a bunch of Danes say 50 Danes from a cemetery 300 years ago, and look at jaws of Danes today, they are smaller today. The [inaudible 00:41:40] thing is still going on, so we have a big experiment we have lots of clinical evidence, and we also sometimes speculate and we are explicit.
Speaker 2: For example on the issue which we'd love that data on, did hunter-gatherers ever snore? We speculate they didn't because of course they were hunted by leopards and they slept outside. I think the snores would have probably been a little pretty rapidly from the population. We'd like more data, but we have more than enough to know what direction we should be moving in. it's just like we don't know exactly how the climate in Sydney or [inaudible 00:42:21] or California is going to change over the next 100 years, but we know that agriculture is utterly dependent on climate.
Speaker 2: If we screw up the climate we are threatening the food base of humanity. You don't always need the final detail to know when you ought to start taking action. With kids there's a nice list that Sandra put together in the book in a box, of what the warning signs are. I suggest that everybody who's got a young kid go to that table and look, because it will give you a clue as to whether or not you should be worrying about this, and whether you should be taking action now before you end up with a kid who speaks through the nose.
Carl: Absolutely and that's what I love; the first part of the book really talks about the problem and the history. Then the last bit is really some practical here's what you can do, here's what to look out for, here's the different checklists look for this. Obviously people can get the book and get the whole checklist. What are some of the for a parent listening, what are some of the key warning signs they should probably look out for?
Sandra Kahn: The short list would be number one if the kid has the mouth open. If you see him watching TV or [inaudible 00:43:30] the mouth is open. When a kid smiles and you see a lot of gum, that's a sign that their upper jaw is actually growing down. You can see that even in a kid that just has the baby teeth that are coming in. There's too much gum showing. Sleeping is a very good time to observe the kid; we grow, we develop when we are sleeping. Growth hormone [inaudible 00:43:55] two in the morning when we go into deep sleep. Go in and watch your children and see what's going on when they are sleep. Obviously any type of snoring any type of noise is not normal it's a sign of alarm. New born babies that are snoring so this should be taken into consideration as a [inaudible 00:44:15].
Sandra Kahn: You see that the sheets are turned over like the kid is moving a lot during the night. That's another sign. If they are waking up and they are not refreshed, they are not ready to do all their child [inaudible 00:44:29]. I'm not taking about teenagers they are always tired. I'm talking about younger kids; they should get up early, ready to go energetic they are ready for anything. If they are waking up and they are tired that's a problem. There's enough research in the book that correlates with attention [inaudible 00:44:52] kids are tired during the day, or they are misbehaving.
Sandra Kahn: It could be also from the [inaudible 00:45:00] that. That's why if you see bugs under their eyes, that means their jaw is falling down this is a [inaudible 00:45:07] blood it's getting stuck under the eyes. Too much of the white of their eyes that's also another sign. One thing next to the other. Any parent that starts reading this will recognize eventually a few others, because they are usually very important for parents to be empowered by the information and know what's going on.
Carl: Absolutely I think also from my own experience at least, when you see some of the photos and images that you include, and you see the stark difference between before utilizing better oral posture, and fizzing all the types of strategies you talk about. Then what after like it's amazing to see the difference as you talk about long face versus better jaw structure. That was especially the twins’ one that was very fascinating to me. For the rest of us even though there's our children but also for us.
Carl: The key things I took way was I need to be conscious of how soft the food is I'm eating. For myself I don't know about others listening, but my family in general and I started to think about this. Is this part of why my sister and I had such really my whole family had dental issues. I don't know if I'm the fastest eater in the family, but my whole family are pretty fast. When Grace my partner comes over she's usually the last person to finish, the whole family's finished and she's still going.
Carl: I was aware of how little I chew, how much I'll swallow the food really probably after one or two chews and then I'll gulp it down. I've done that almost my whole life it's a habit. I tried to get into the habit of okay chewing it 15 times, I think that was the suggestion in the book. I tried to consciously be aware of that. I found that 32 years of habit is hard to change I just want to swallow, it's like it's done. Chewing but making sure we chew more.
Carl: Chewing harder foods or being aware that the softer foods aren't getting our muscles working and grinding the teeth. Someone actually I was talking about the book the other day with someone. They said that yes they loved chewing on bones. I'm guessing they are probably hunter-gatherers it's probably what we are used to do right? Chew on the bones. If that's how people like to do, I guess that's something they could do and would help.
Paul: I was going to say make mothers hate you by recommending chewing gum. We think once you get gum manufacturers to make better gum, there are some gums that we know about we can encourage kids to chew.
Carl: Is it the chewing of it is it the action of chewing, or is it the gum it's elf that's helping?
Sandra Kahn: No it's the action of chewing; they are working out the muscles. I don't know if you are familiar with doctor [inaudible 00:47:44] because he's a big presence in the internet. He has people adults that have been chewing gum, and they are uploading their photos, and they are saying look how my jaw line has strengthened just since I've been chewing gum. Everyday hard gum and you can see like I said I don't have experience with adults, because it's not part of my practice. There's definitely [inaudible 00:48:05] circumstantial evidence that is showing that just chewing and the breathing is causing a lot of at least a static improvement in adults.
Carl: Amazing. The three takeaways was chewing better, making sure I've got the right oral posture, and breathing through my nose rather than through my mouth, which I think I do okay. From every one listening, those are the three key things I took away, and they are nodding along but I think I'm on the right track. That's good to know. it's been amazing to talk to you guys, and everyone listening whether you have kids or not, I highly recommend you go out and you grab the book.
Carl: Again, it's called Jaws; the story of a hidden epidemic. You can get it on Amazon, and probably at any of your book stores if you reach out I'll be able to get it for you. Sandra and Paul thank you so much for joining us. A final question I know you touched on it. To each of you; when you think to the future in general with what you know in your industry obviously, but projecting forward. Are you optimistic, are you pessimistic where do you lie?
Sandra Kahn: Like I said before I'm optimistic. I think that in my industry there is so much change that can happen just by having the right information. I already see where the tide's changing. I see a lot of parents with this information demanding better treatment, and it's already happening. For me it's something that is it has a good outlook.
Paul: I agree with her in the general area of jaw health and so on. I think we are starting to move in the right direction. On the other issues this is a huge environmental issue. On the other huge environmental issues I'm very optimistic about what we could do, but in the current political situation I'm very pessimistic about what we will do. In any case I'm optimistic that we can give a lot of people a lot better life even if we are headed for a collapse that will be very unpleasant in a few decades.
Carl: Awesome absolutely I appreciate both of your points of view, and everyone guys check out their book. We'll make sure there's a link in the show notes to the book, and also where you can learn and find more information about both Paul and Sandra. Look guys if you enjoyed this please jump down and get that book, and leave your comments. Let us know what you liked and maybe in the future we can have Paul and Sandra back on, or pass on any messages you'd like passed on. Thank you very much see you guys later.

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