skeptical inquiry: epigenetic orthodontics

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I first heard the phrase “epigenetic orthodontics” when I told my new dentist that I had obstructive sleep apnea. The dentist said that there was interesting new work being done in treating apnea with this type of orthodontics and gave me the name of a researcher who was involved in it: Dave Singh, DDSc, PhD, BDS.

Epigenetics: inherited changes or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than DNA.
Orthodontics: the use of corrective appliances to bring teeth, jaw, and other facial features into alignment.

Put the two together and what have you got?

“…appliances…capable of modulating genetic pathways, which are effectively dormant or inactive, and are capable of restarting craniofacial development in adult patients as well as in children. In addition, abnormal patterning is corrected, in part, through the deployment of orthodontic/orthopedic/pneumopedic™ devices or DNA appliances™, which may evoke natural developmental processes that improve a patient’s airway and thereby ameliorate or prevent airway issues such as snoring and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing through non-surgical airway remodeling™.”

What was that again? Maybe this will clear it up for you. The appliances in question do the following:

“…modify, change or attenuate the physical location of natural teeth, jaws and airway in 3-D space during orthodontic/orthopedic/pneumopedic™ treatments, based on the concept of ‘temporo-spatial patterning.'”

The claim seems to be that an appliance in your mouth will encourage gene expression to alter the structure of your jaw, mouth, etc. in a beneficial way. In adults. It seems like crazy gibberish, but so does modern physics, so we’ll give it a benefit of the doubt for a little while. I’ll return to this topic again after having searched for peer-reviewed journal research strongly supporting this method of facial improvement. According to this page, there are “certified providers” already using this technique. Surely, they wouldn’t be actually treating people without solid published research.

I’ll be back when I’ve had some more time with this.

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