Why Children Need Raw Food For Healthy Teeth

How chewing tough food shapes the jaw

How Raw Food Shapes Teeth And Jawbones
Children who eat raw food have a better chance at developing straight teeth. GettyImages

It’s hardly news that exercise is great for building strong bones and joints. However few of us stop to think about how chewing is in fact exercise for our mouth. Moreover when you go to the gym to build bones that support larger muscles, the same happens for our teeth and jaw when we eat. 

Our diet plays an important role in the growth of the supportive skeletal structures that house our teeth. When we eat food that require us to chew it promotes normal and healthy jaw growth.

However it doesn’t stop here, the space created through jaw development is the very foundation for straight, healthy teeth. 

The jawbone and facial muscles

We may not consider it this way, but our jaw or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most frequently used joints in our body. It’s responsible for all movements of the mouth and face including, breathing, speaking, chewing and swallowing. 

Operated by a complex group of muscles our jaw joint is designed to generate up to 120 pounds of force. The relationship between force exerted by a joint and bone development is well known. People who exercise regularly are known to have stronger bone and spine support due to the influence of muscle movements on joint development 

Much like our bicep muscle and elbow, research has shown that the strength of the jaw will develop the dimensions of the face that are framed by the upper and lower jaw bones.

 

Similarly later in life, exercise and joint movement prevents bone degeneration that occurs in diseases such as osteoarthritis. When a joint is inactive it seems to lose its natural ability to maintain itself. 

While the relationship to exercise and joint health is understood all over our body, we rarely use these principles when it comes to the mouth.

 

How food shapes our face from birth

When we consider the role chewing plays in promoting both the upper and lower jaw growth, we see how crucial it is for dental health. In order for the teeth to have enough space, there must be adequate jawbone.

As the development of the jaw finishes by the age of 12, it demonstrates the crucial role our diet early in life.  Right from birth the feeding habits of a baby will play a direct influence on the jaw. Breastfeeding is known to develop a baby’s palate through the suction and muscle movements required to draw milk from a mother’s breast. A high palate, is commonly associated with crowding of the upper teeth and is known to be more common in children that aren’t breastfed. 

Once a child has outgrown breastfeeding the transition to solid foods diet that require chewing will help them to develop strong facial muscles that ultimately allow them to grow a strong lower jaw. 

How processed diets have failed our teeth

The world has seen a significant shift in the way our children eat.

Our diet is now based around refined foods that have had the chewable properties removed. 

As well as breastfeeding, a child’s diet should consist of foods that require chewing as early as possible. For small children this may mean cutting up fresh fruits and vegetables rather than mashing them so that they learn to the chewing motion of eating. 

Most importantly it involves limiting some of the modern food habits that have changed they way we use our jaw during eating. These include:

  • Bottle-feeding
  • Canned foods
  • Juices
  • Processed or mashed foods

Cooking is an excellent way to enhance the nutrient absorption in many foods and should make up a good proportion of the diet. However by including a portion of raw foods to every meal, you ensure that the jaw is sufficiently stimulated through the action of chewing

Examples of foods to eat raw for good dental health include:

  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Red bell pepper
  • Cabbage
  • Apples

     

Sources: 

Nowlan, Niamh C., et al. "Developing bones are differentially affected by compromised skeletal muscle formation." Bone 46.5 (2010): 1275-1285.

Raadsheer, M. C., et al. "Contribution of jaw muscle size and craniofacial morphology to human bite force magnitude." Journal of dental research 78.1 (1999): 31-42.

Howe, T. E., et al. "Exercise for preventing and treating osteoporosis in postmenopausal women (Review)." (2011).

Adair, Linda S., and Barry M. Popkin. "Are child eating patterns being transformed globally?." Obesity Research 13.7 (2005): 1281-1299. 

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