Saturday, March 24, 2012

All my flaws, explained

I recently came across a really interesting post. I found it quite by accident. It was all about the development of the mouth/jaw/palate and how it relates to the way you breathe, or vice-versa really.

Part 1
Part 2

This may not sound really interesting to you. You probably have a normal mouth. With normal teeth. You probably didn't have eight years of orthodontic work, speech therapy and five oral surgeries of various types.

I have. And that's why I thought this was really neat stuff.

This is a mold of my teeth in 4th grade:

That was biting down. I couldn't even eat normally. I would bite off pieces of sandwiches with my molars.

Fast forward to now, and I've got decent enough teeth. I mean, if you're not looking hard, and we're just talking and what-not, I look fine. But the reality is that I still have a pretty darn big overbite and I'm really self-conscious about that. My teeth are healthy and everything, but despite all those years of work, they are far from perfect. When the years of torture drew to a close, I was told that my bite was not perfect, but it was as good as it would get with braces. I was told that if I wanted to achieve something better, I'd have to have my jaw broken and reset. I thought, "Well, they're good enough for me!" And I still feel that way if the alternative is a broken jaw wired shut.

But trust me, I'm self-conscious a lot. I feel like a beaver. I've been told that I just have a tiny jaw. But nobody ever explained WHY.

So that brings us to the point of this post: the blog I came across the other day. To sum it up, how you breathe (mouth or nose) as a baby/small child determines how your whole face looks. Why? Well, if you breathe through your nose, like you should, you close your mouth and it forms a seal. Your tongue goes to the roof of your mouth a bit of a ways behind your teeth and spreads out, which in turn spreads your palate.

On the other hand, if you breathe through your mouth all of the time, you don't have that spreading effect and end up with a narrow jaw -- but not just that. It affects the development of the entire middle part of your face. And you can end up with an overbite, weak chin and protruding nose.

People this totally describes me. And you probably are imagining I look a bit like this:

And, well, I kinda used to. See this post for more on that and what I really look like.

But I'm not that bad. Not really. I just think it is fascinating that all the things I've always sorta disliked about my face are entirely due to the way I breathed when I was little. I don't know for a fact that I breathed through my mouth, but I'd bet money. It's like the chicken and the egg: Do I find myself keeping my mouth a bit open because of the overbite, or do I have the overbite because I didn't keep my mouth closed? I don't really know. But please don't call me a "mouth breather." My dad already says we have hillbilly blood, and I just don't need that.


Jdel said...

hmmm...never ever noticed your small jaw or weird teeth. and while i don't know if we ever really had a face to face conversation (except maybe at your lotion party???!!) i can assure you i notice things like that. but the whole breathing thing is def interesting.

C Marcia (Sequins) said...

I had horrible allergies growing up and was a notorious "mouth breather" (although ugh the term.. It sounds so gross!). My teeth were relatively straight (except for a snaggle tooth), but they didn't close. At all. I had to twist my jaw to make my back molars touch. Five years of orthodonitcs and a surgery that broke my jaw in three places and reset it with bolts later, and I have a jaw that closes all the way. (Well, mostly. Enough for eating sandwiches, at least!)

(So, I feel your pain. Literally.)