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Holistic Dentistry Q&A: Pacifiers, Teeth Grinding and MORE!!!

Affiliate Disclosure | in Everything Else | by | with 25 Comments

So, A Few Weeks Ago . . .

Dr. Liao and I dished about my Brad Pitt obsession, how facial structure affects your child’s health, and why sometimes orthodontics can do more harm than good. Boy-oh-boy did you have questions! Read below to find out if pacifiers/binkies are helpful or harmful, what causes teeth grinding, how to find a holistic dentist and more!

Palate Expansion For Kids

Conventional Palate Expander


So, when you take your kids in to get their palate expanded, is there a special type of palate expansion, or just the regular one that all orthodontists use? Anyone had any experience with this? ~ A.B.

Dr. Liao: The more dental-facial asymmetry, the more I lean toward DNA appliance. Those include one eye or ear higher, head tilt, uneven shoulders, deviated nose, and one side of the palate narrower than the other.  Otherwise, conventional expanders will do.

Teeth Grinding

“I would love to know what treatment an adult can do to correct teeth grinding. I have never had a brace but grind my teeth terrible and it has caused me no end of issues. My teeth are being destroyed from it! What treatment would Dr Liao have a patient do? Thank you! Also is there a worldwide database of Dentists who practice like this?” ~Gittele

“I second the teeth grinding question. I’ve tried so many treatments (yoga, exercise, running, acupressure, essential oils) and mouth guards, and ultimately spent a lot of money. But none of it has been a permanent solution. My current mouth guard I have to wear every night. If I forget to put it in, I get migraines, damaged teeth and very tense jaw/neck/shoulder muscles, not to mention I wake up everyone else in the house. Doctors and dentists keep saying that the usual cause is stress, but I would not consider myself stressed at all (despite what they say, I think I would know). I feel like there has to be some underlying cause that no one is looking for!” ~ Brianne

Dr. Liao: Teeth grinding interests me a great deal because it makes no sense that the body would mutilate itself.   In a nutshell, leading edge thinking now says teeth grinding is a brain event expressed dentally.  The event is called low oxygen from airway insufficiency from the obstruction by the tongue because the mouth is too small for the tongue.  Think of the tongue as a 6 foot tiger in a 3-foot cage formed by under-developed jaws (often with crowded teeth or extraction for braces).  Lying down causes the tongue to fall into the throat when the jaws are underdeveloped and/or positioned too closed to the neck.  After a while, the body cables the brain to say, “We are starving for oxygen.  Do something fast!  Anything!”  The brain then does the only thing it can: move the lower jaw to get the tongue out of the throat.

So Brianne is right.  There is some other cause.  Teeth grinding is actually CPR being done by the body to itself in response to Code Blue (oxygen starvation).  Expanding the 3 foot cage (jaws) to accommodate the 6 foot tiger is the only way to make peace for the body and the brain.  My upcoming book will discuss this in detail. [Note from Mommypotamus: This makes perfect sense to me. However, sometimes a symptom can have more than one root cause. Nutritional deficiencies (esp. magnesium and calcium) and pinworms have also been implicated as causes of teeth grinding.]

No, there is no world wide directory yet.  Click here to search for a trained practitioner near you.


“I’m curious about pacifiers/binkies. Is there research or evidence suggesting whether they are helpful/harmful? I’ve used one with my son because he really always wants it. When he was younger I gave it to him because I wanted him to breathe through his nose instead of through his mouth. So with all the talk about nose breathing, I’m just curious about your opinion on binkies/pacifiers.” ~ Trish

“I second the pacifier question – I know that the children who were photographed by Price had perfect teeth and probably were nursed ’til they were three or four, but pacifiers are probably different than real nipples. I’d love to hear a professional opinion!” ~ A.B.

Dr. Liao: I have no experience or research for pacifiers.  But they strike me as a substitute for thumb/finger sucking, which is an attempt by the child to self-relieve tensions in the cranial (skull) bones.  The best solution is to find a doctor in your community who does cranial work, e.g. an osteopath, chiropractor, or cranio-sacral therapist.  One new born would spit up after nursing and then cry all night.  This went on for 2 months and both parents were exhausted.  It took one visit to the osteopath to resolve the problem completely, and never to return.  Releasing the jammed skull bones helps reduce the start of malocclusion (bad bite).

[Note from Mommypotamus: This is very interesting to me. Micah was an avid thumb sucker until he had surgery to correct his tongue tie – in fact the pic I shared right before the surgery is one of him sucking his thumb! From that point forward, though, he never did it again. I always wondered why until now!]

Treatments For Mouth Breathing

“What does one do to correct mouth breathing in kids? I feel this is part of the reason for my son’s tooth decay because he doesn’t close his mouth for saliva to do its job.” ~ Beka

Yes, mouth breathing contributes to cavities by drying up saliva and and with it the protection against decay.  Correction is to first identify source of allergies from food first.  The most frequent culprits are diary, wheat, soy, sugar (esp. HFCS, high fructose corn syrup — look up  Avoid anything cold at meal time: ice water, cold milk, frozen desserts, etc.  Cold slows digestion which contributes to gut stagnancy and leads to intestinal inflammation which then shows up in the respiratory tract, including tonsillitis and sinusitis.  You might also consider checking the home for mold.

Sleep Apnea

“I would to know more about fixing sleep apnea with this device [the DNA Appliance]. My husband uses a CPAP at night and would love to stop using it, but is exhausted when does. Can you really fix this problem, what is involved and how long does it usually take? Thanks for all the helpful info!” ~ Monica

It depends on the severity of his sleep apnea.  In non-severe cases (AHI score lower than 30), DNA appliance works well.  In severe cases, active effort to lose weight, avoid all  dairy, wheat, soy, and sugar (especially High Fructose Corn Syrup) is essential.  Avoid processed food completely for a month and check results.  “Diseases which cannot be treated through diet are incurable with any medicine”, said Hippocrates in 450 BC.  Eat a light dinner by 6 PM and go to bed by 10 PM.  There are two types of dental sleep appliances.  DNA appliance widens jaws to make room for the tongue in the mouth, whereas Mandibular Advancement Devices (MAD) because they move the lower jaw forward (and the tongue with it) during sleep only.  MAD does not expand the jaws and thus serves as a “crutch” without treating the cause of under-sized jaws, but it is effective in mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea.  MAD does not move teeth, whereas DNA does.  So DNA appliance has a second part to it for locking in the orthopedic gains from widening the jaws. DNA appliance does help patients breathe better during the day.


“I had a bionator (I think that was what it was called) as a child. It worked so well to correct a very severe overbite. However, I still have a very deep bite. I probably could have had it corrected as a child, but we moved away from the only dentist who addressed these issues. Also, my second little boy had tongue tie, and a very rough birth. Is there anything that I should be doing for him? (he is 3 now) He also has an overbite and a very deep bite. Is the bionator a good option when he gets older? It was such an easy and painless fix for me as a child, but I don’t know it is what is “best”. I don’t have any jaw problems, but I do notice that I have become more of a mouth breather as I have gotten older. I have also recently noticed that my head is definitely jutting out and causing headaches and neck aches. This is all so fascinating for me, and I have a ton of questions!” ~ Mandy

Bionator is good for deep bite correction, but there are other ways, too.  Be sure your 3 year old is able to breathe through his nose, and that he does not [still] have a tongue tie.  Forward neck and backward head tilt is a sign of airway insufficiency

Palate Expansion For Adults

“Such an interesting post – thanks Mommypotamus and Dr. Liao! My question is, what can one do to correct such problems later on in life? I am 22 and have terrible neck, back and shoulder pain which I believe stems from my jaw, which aches and clicks and always feels tense. I had dental overcrowding and underwent palate expansion as a teenager, but I feel my jaw wasn’t quite expanded enough as my mouth still feels crowded, I have a slight over-jet and my wisdom teeth have come through all wrong (upper two growing out towards my cheek, bottom two towards the other teeth). Is it too late to correct these problems, and if not what would you recommend?” ~ Mali Korsten

No, it’s not too late. 22 is still on the good side of 40.  Stem cells in the ligaments that anchor teeth to the jaws can be triggered into making bone at any age.  Neck, shoulder and back pain is the price paid for misaligned jaws and bite.  Such pain goes away naturally when the jaws and bite are put in the right place, i.e. in harmony with head and neck.  Dental crowding and clicking jaw joints are other common features of misaligned head-jaws-neck.  Properly designed DNA appliance can fix that, followed braces to lock in the orthopedic gains.

How To Find A Holistic Dentist

“My question is where and how to find such practitioners. I have called everywhere in my state with no success, I found one holistic dentist however she would not take children.”

Here are some tips forfinding a holistic dentist in your area(some are considered holistic simply because they use biocompatible materials, others have more advanced training such as Dr. Liao). Ramiel Nagel, whose protocol I used toheal Katie’s cavities, also has some great resources for finding a holistic dentisthere.

Still have questions? Wonderful! Leave a comment below and it may be covered in a future post!

Photo credits:Palate expander (Dr. Liao). mouth guard, pacifier, mouth breathing, CPAP


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25 Responses to Holistic Dentistry Q&A: Pacifiers, Teeth Grinding and MORE!!!

  1. Alexis D says:

    Great post! Lots of really good information! Thank you :)

  2. Betsy T says:

    Great, great post! I find that usually it is a combination of treatments to get the best results. And finances are a big factor, so have your list of treatment options, begin with the most affordable and move on from there. You eventually will reach the finish line, but it will not be fast.

  3. Alison says: does not go to a dental appliance website. can you please fix it or provide a link, i am very interested. thanks.

  4. A. B. says:

    Thanks so much for the GREAT article – it is so comprehensive – and I am so glad to have my questions answered as well as an explanation for my hubby’s incessant teeth grinding. He has very crowded teeth.

    • Heather says:

      So glad you liked it, A.B.! Thanks for kicking us off with a great question!

    • ken says:

      Bruxism can lead to tooth loss. Does he have scalloping on his tongue from it being pressed against the back of his teeth? Sounds like he has a underdeveloped jaws which is causing the crowding, but has a normal sized tongue. Does your husband snore or have sleep apnea? Most of the time when someone grinds thier teeth while sleeping is it paired with sleep disordered breathing of some sort. Normally what happens is — while they are sleeping they have a apnea event (stop breathing for more than 10 seconds- ie tongue rolls to the back of the throat blocking the airway) and then the person grinds their teeth to reposition the lower jaw(moving the tongue-which is connected to the lower jaw) to open the airway, rolls over and goes back to sleep. They repeat that cycle all night. It is a side effect of not having enough funtional space in you mouth and skull which to pass air so you can breathe. The DNA appliance System treatment will cause the bones in the skull to remodel and expand that functional space. If you widen the upper jaw you are also increasing the floor of the sinus in the nose.

      Grinding your teeth is a sign of other things are occuring. Send your husband to a specialist/dentist/orthodontist/sleep doctor.

      Ken Yielding
      IT Manager
      DNA appliance System Diagnostic Service
      BioModeling Solutions LLC

  5. Nicole says:

    So what options would you recommend for a 7yr old? I wasn’t on real food while pregnant with him, or for the first 5 years of his life. His baby teeth are falling out, and coming back in- crocked it looks like to me. He also still struggles to not suck his thumb in his sleep :-( I wore braces, and had my bottom and top jaw expanded (ow~)- but my bottom teeth are crooked again- so if genetics play any role- he’s in trouble. At what age do you start corrective procedures????

    • Heather says:

      Hi Nicole! Dr. Liao says 7 is the best age to begin treatment for boys (8 for girls, I think). He goes into a little more detail about that in this post

    • ken says:

      Hello Nicole,

      Some of our providers have treated children younger than yours. The main concern is compliance for a child that is that young. The DNA appliance has to be worn in the evening and all night everynight. The suggest wear time per day is 12 to 14 hours normally. I would imagine that getting a young child to wear it for that amount of time would be challenging. The ages that I have seen come through the diagnostic service are from 4 to 70 years old.

      Malocclusion is caused by several different factors and not all of them are genetic. Most dental issues in this day and age are enviromental/behavioral. Take for example the discussion about breatfeeding and bottle feeding/pacifer use. How long has bottle feeding been the normal approach to rearing children? 100 years. How long has breast feeding been the normal? Millions of years. Look at the teeth of indiginous people whom never used bottles or pacifers. They nearly all have straight teeth.

      Our culture and society has changed in regards to child rearing with the introduction of bottles, pacifiers and a refined sugar diet. It has also changed the size and shapes of our skull and jaws. When a child sucks thier thumb habitually they will develop a open bite. The teeth in the front are physically, over time – moved by the presence of the thumb. That is an enviromental change.

      No one talks about the effect of bottle feeding on the bones in the mid-facial region. Simply put, the pressure from the bottle stunts the normal growth of the bones in the face. To the point that a new class of malocclusion has been defined. When Angle (an orthodontist from over 100 years ago) , invented a class system to describe malocclusion. There was only two classes of malocclusion back then. Now there are three. Caused by the aforementioned issues.

  6. Kari R. SaintLouis via FB says:

    I think I have everything to make these….hummmm I am always trying to be get better at cooking and growing edibles. Try Try Try. Wish me luck! (I’ll put the kids to work!)

  7. Melissa says:

    These articles are so informative, thanks for posting! I was wondering though about sealants as well… I have a 9yr old that the dentist wants to put them on the molars, I am thinking more “no” but would love some feedback :) Thanks!

  8. carrie says:

    as alison mentioned above, is incorrect. simple typo :) it’s

  9. Shannon 'Hearne' Kimsey via FB says:

    I wanted to tell you I contacted Dr Kotlow and he was wonderful at giving me the name of a pediatric dentist in Chicago who uses the erbium laser. I hope this helps some people who may have been hesitant to do anything bc traveling to NY/TX wasn’t an option.

  10. Mommypotamus via FB says:

    I am so glad to hear that, Shannon ‘Hearne’ Kimsey! Thank you!

  11. Mali Korsten (The Korsten Chronicle) says:

    Thanks for posting/answering my question – greatly appreciated! Now I just need a brainwave… I live in South Africa and it appears that no one here offers the DNA appliance. Perhaps I need a really long holiday in a place that does! Thanks again :)

    • Candice says:

      I have been in contact with the dna appliance people and the appliance is now (2015) available in south Africa but not everywhere yet. Only one in gauteng.
      Did you persue treatment elsewhere?

  12. Dental Care Doz says:

    There are a lots of docs coming up like , Holistic Dentists are really helping to remove mercury mess out of mouth..

  13. Josh says:

    I’ve heard acupressure works but to a certain extent. Like you said, it’s not permanent. Your resource link to find a holistic dentist is useful. It’s quite hard to find one.

  14. Ken says:

    Hey Heather,

    I just wanted to let you know that there is a new video on the DNA appliance website that is for the general public. It is called DNA appliance made simple presented by Dr Dave Singh the inventor of the DNA appliance and founder of the field of epigenetic orthodontics. It covers topics like gene expression and goes over 12 different cases of DNA appliance users. Additionally I have added a few links from the home page to blogs of DNA appliance users. The results are pretty amazing, so please drop by and check it out.

    Keep up the amazing work you do,


  15. Tiffany says:

    I would love to know how to holistically treat my gums and exposed roots of my teeth. Behind my lower lip it would appear my teeth have been rotting away. My gums have receded ( apparently due to brushing too hard? ) and exposed the roots of two of my teeth. They now are blackened. I hate it so much and am so self conscious of it. I also hate going to the dentist ( I’m a big wuss, my teeth are really sensitive and I hate fingers in my mouth and that horrible air blowing sucking thing….) I am wheat free and gave up sugar after Christmas 2014. Any suggestions??? :(

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