I’m an overly proud father of two young boys.
Cam is 5 months old, bald, and really happy. He’s quick to smile, and when he does it shows in his eyes. He got that from his mom.
Knox is two. He’s smart, goofy and also usually really happy. He’s curious but careful, loves food, and tries the limits of Mom’s patience. She says he got that from me.
What I hope neither of them inherit from us are the two plus years of braces we had to endure as kids. Braces are a pain. They slice your lips and trap tons of food. Your teeth ache after each wire adjustment. And sleeping in headgear is the ultimate test of self discipline.
Chances are that both boys will need braces. Luckily, there are things we can do NOW to minimize the time they’ll have to spend in them. Ready for it?
Feed them hard foods. Yep, that simple.
Let me explain: Children go through phases of growth. Certain body parts grow quicker than others, and at different times.
2Source Patterns of Human Growth by Barry Bogin
The brain grows first and fast. Accordingly, our skull and facial bones are next to catch up. The majority of our facial growth occurs between the ages of 7 to 11. By age 12, our faces stop growing and are as big as they’re going to get.
So what does this have to do with hard foods? Pressure.
Bone, in its growth phase, has the ability to change shape and density if pressure is applied to it often enough. That’s why the Chinese used to bind the feet of young girls, and why most gymnasts are compact in stature.
Nowadays most food is processed into mush. Vegetables are cooked and soft. Meat is ground up and easy to chew. Even fruit is sliced up and cubed for easy eating.
Our soft diet isn’t forcing our tongues, cheeks and lips to do much work. In turn, the bones in our face aren’t being exposed to the forces necessary to expand them. So what happens? We end up with an arch that isn’t wide enough to accommodate all of the teeth. So they grow crooked. We end up with a narrow airway. Which makes it hard to get enough oxygen. Which leads to mouth breathing. Which leads to a cascade of other developmental consequences that I’ll get into in later posts.
So invest in cucumbers. Invest in celery, raw broccoli, carrots, whole apples. Cook that steak a little extra tough. Let the kiddos gnaw on some beef jerky. Let their bodies develop how they were designed to over the past 500 Million years.
It’ll be the best investment you’ve ever made.