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Deconstructing the orthodontist 

For many years, the scientific community has discussed the sustainability of the theory of evolution.

But this has nothing to do with creationism or similar fantasies.

It is whether in fact our ancestors evolved to adapt to the environment in which they lived or if it is already written in our genes that evolutionary changes happen.

This new thinking is caused by two women, one a paleontologist and the other an orthodontist, who discovered how the sphenoid bone of our skull was sinking more and more without apparent reason.

The paleontologist discovered this in our ancestors. And the orthodontist in our children.

This bending could be the origin of our bodies stretching until becoming bipeds (walking on two legs), an evolution which has the best scientists on this matter fighting between them. The orthodontist also defends that this bending of our back continues even more nowadays, as a clear example of the constant evolutionary process.

 You will agree with me that the relationship between an orthodontist and the theory of evolution is curious.

In our popular knowledge, the role of this specialist is usually limited to the correction of the position of the teeth with braces.

However, their field of knowledge and practice encompasses everything related to the musculature and dento-facial bones, to the point of detecting the causes of poor performance among the smallest, bone malformations of the face and even attempting to dismantle, as we have seen, the theory of evolution.

One of the most common problems that an orthodontist can detect in children who come for a consultation is Oral Breathing Syndrome (mouth breathing due to obstruction of the airways or habit). It is so common that there is a case of this kind in almost every family.

Sonsoles Pérez Tamajón, orthodontist at the Artedental clinic in Puerto de la Cruz, says that its effects are so characteristic that she is able to distinguish, while walking down the street, a person who is suffering from this and not corrected.

What is striking is that this person may attribute it to other causes and never thought there was a solution as a child. At the dentist.

“During the facial bone growth, up to 18 years in men and 13 in women, constantly breathing through an open mouth causes the tongue down, the palate is narrowed, lips do not meet and teeth are exposed, affecting their position and preventing their match, malocclusion or misalignment of jaws”, says Sonsoles.

They may seem unimportant details, but they will have a drastic effect on facial development. “The cheekbones re-main flat and the face will be extended”. Obviously, its effect on physical appearance will be decisive, and needless to say the importance of the role aesthetics play in contemprary society.

 But it may worsen. Other effects may have more serious health consequences. Mouth breathing makes you take a smaller amount of oxygen to the blood if we do it through the nose, affecting organs. With malocclusion, they may develop difficulty speaking; and from this disease you can also suffer from sleep apnea, which will make the night’s rest more shallow, causing fatigue and sleep during the day and therefore a low yield.

Sonsoles advises that “early diagnosis, when the facial bones are still developing, could prevent all these problems and even correct them.”

She recommends that the first visit to the dentist is therefore at three years of age, and to the orthodontist at 6, because “if you wait for facial development to be completed, it could be irreversible.”

In any case, as the Artedental specialist stresses, “it is always better to start any treatment as soon as possible”.

It is not clear yet if dentofacial malformations originate in the evolutionary development or if their cause is printed on our genetic fingerprint. What we do know is that we can correct to gain in quality of life.