Weston A. Price was an American dentist who lived from 1870 to 1948, in a period where science was quite different from our modern conception. Many of  his dentistry concepts can be largely debated, like teeth extraction and the conclusions he made about his work. However, with his work he largely contributed to the understanding the causes of malocclusion.

Figure 1 – Dentist Weston A. Price (1870-1948).

Upon observing that a large number of his patients had poor dental health, Dr. Price traveled around the world among both civilized and isolated groups, finding out that malocclusion was a problem uniquely present in civilized groups, together with caries and improper development of the facial structure (and many other problems, reason why he talks about physical degeneration).

In 1939, he published the results of his travel in Nutrition and Physical Degeneration [1]: he observed that people with healthy teeth and facial development were those living in isolated areas far from civilization. He also observed that isolated tribes were still eating diets consisting of unprocessed foods, while civilized groups were eating large amounts of processed foods. So, he concluded that poor dental health was the result of nutritional deficiencies.

There are no doubts that nutrition plays a key role for body’s health: think about dental caries that had an exponential increase from the introduction of refined sugar and think about all the diseases associated with sugar consumption, like diabetes, cancer, depression, mental disorders and others. However, Dr. Price missed out many other factors in determining the causes of malocclusion, so the important message to highlight from his work is actually only one: malocclusion is a consequence of modern and civilized lifestyle! From Figure 2 to 10 there are examples from Dr. Price’s book.

Figure 2 – On the left, girls from isolated valleys
of Switzerland (like Loetschental Valley): notice broad dental arches, regular arrangement of the teeth, well developed nostrils and missing of dental caries. On the right, children from modernized districts of Switzerland: notice badly formed dental arches with crowding of the teeth and tooth decay.
Figure 3 – On the left, typical native Alaskan Eskimos. Note the broad faces and broad arches and no dental caries (tooth decays). Upper left, woman has a broken lower tooth, but no tooth decays. On the right,  first generation of children born after the parents have adopted modern lifestyle. Note dental arch deformities, crowded teeth, narrow nostrils and changed facial form.
Figure 4 – On the left, isolated Indians: notice their superb physical development including facial and dental arch form was superb with immunity to dental
caries. On the right, first generation of Indians with modern lifestyle. These young people have deformed dental arches, with faulty development of the facial bones as evidenced by the narrow nostrils and crowded teeth.
Figure 5 – People from islands in the southeastern Pacific (e.g. Fiji Islands). On the left, notice how the development of the facial bones determines the size and shape of the palate and the size of the nasal air passages. Note the well proportioned faces and the strength of the neck of the men: such faces are usually associated with properly proportioned bodies. On the right, the new generation born after the parents adopted modern lifestyle. They often have a change in the shape of the face and dental arches, as a consequence the teeth are crowded.
Figure 6 – Samoan primitives above and modernize below: note the marked difference in facial and dental arch form. The face bones are underdeveloped below causing a marked constriction of the arches with crowding of the teeth.
Figure 7 – On the left, tribe in Belgian Congo. Note the breadth of the dental arches and the finely proportioned features. Their bodies are as well built as their heads. On the right, first generation, after the adoption of modernized lifestyle. Note the deformities: the extreme protrusion of the upper teeth with shortening of the lower jaw in the upper pictures and the marked narrowing with lengthening of the face in the lower views. The injury is not limited to the visible structures.
Figure 8 – On the left, primitive Aborigines of Australia. Note the magnificent dental arches and beautiful teeth of these primitives. On the right, first modernized generation of Aborigines.  Note the characteristic narrowing of the dental arches and crowding of the teeth. The disturbance in facial growth is often so serious as to make normal breathing through the nose very difficult. This is primarily due to faulty development of the maxillary bones.
Figure 9 – On the left, New Zealand primitive natives, the Maori, that have had the reputation of having the finest teeth and finest bodies of any race in the world. On the right, modernized whites of New Zealand, claimed to have the poorest teeth in the world.
Figure 10 – On the left, Andean Indians with superb facial and dental arch development. The man at the upper left was said to be very old with teeth that have a very high state of perfection, but vigorous use has worn them. On the right, modernized Sierra Indians. The boy at the upper left is a mouth breather because his nostrils are too small to carry sufficient air. The girl at the upper right has a badly underdeveloped chin and pinched nostrils. Both boys below have badly narrowed arches with crowding teeth.

The extensive work of Weston Price clearly denoted that there are no racial differences in the occurrence of malocclusion: in any group around the world, malocclusion and facial deformities were present only in civilized people. Also, he highlighted that facial deformities and incorrect facial development mean body deformities. Furthermore, he also noted social behavior changes among different groups, with missing of criminality in isolated ones. Tooth decays were only present in those people adopting Western diets.

Despite his conclusion about his work can be largely debated, it has been clearly shown that the body has to be seen in a holistic way: from head to feet, our body is an unique system, where each part cannot be seen in isolation from the rest. Breathing, nutrition and lifestyle (including bottle-feeding, the use of pacifiers, use of shoes) are important aspects for body’s health: take care of them!


[1] Price, Weston A., and Trung Nguyen. Nutrition and physical degeneration: a comparison of primitive and modern diets and their effects. EnCognitive. com, 2016.