The Work of Weston A. Price – Nutrition and Physical Degeneration
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.
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 : 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.
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!