Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Selecting an Orthodontist or Dentist, and Our Rapid Results

This post is fourth in a series about alternatives to conventional orthodontics. 

In the other posts of this series, I talked about why my 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics, why we're not using conventional braces, and some alternatives to conventional braces. Now I'll share our experiences thus far.


Finding the Right Dentist

We do not have any dentists or orthodontists locally that use either lightwire or plastic myofunctional appliances to encourage growth of the dental arches. Using the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics website, I was able to find a few prospective dentists about 220 miles away from our home, in Albuquerque NM.

One thing that was important to me was finding a practitioner who would be okay with our decision to not expose our daughter to X-rays. We also wanted to find a dentist/orthodontist who made our daughter feel at ease so that she would not dread going to the dentist.We learned just how important it was to interview different care providers, as the two practitioners we met with were completely different.

Two Completely Different Dentists

We met with an orthodontist who told us that he knew better than we did about the X-rays and that we would have to do them no matter what our reasons for not wanting them.  That same orthodontist also treated my daughter almost as a non-human entity. He ignored her completely at first, just talking to my husband and myself. He told us that he could accomplish the same thing with either a Crozat or braces, which shows that he really had no idea of the differences between the two methods.  And then he proceeded to start manipulating my daughter's head and mouth without talking to her or asking her permission. She was extremely uncomfortable with this dentist, as evidenced by her stiff-as-a-board posture and grabbing my hand in a death grip while the dentist inspected her mouth.

The other practitioner we met with was a pediatric dentist named Dr. Hess. Our experience with Dr. Hess was completely different than our awful experience with the orthodontist. First and foremost, Dr. Hess engaged our daughter in a conversation about unicorns (one of her favorite animals) and he had a very natural manner that set her at ease. Regarding X-rays, Dr. Hess said that although he would like to have them, he would also respect our decision to not have X-rays so long as we signed a waiver. Dr. Hess was very experienced with using appliances that encourage jaw growth, such as Crozats and plastic myofunctional appliances.  And then he started talking to me about the importance of breastfeeding in developing proper oral habits, and about the research of Weston A. Price.  You can imagine that at this point I knew we had found the right dentist!


My Daughter's Orthodontic Appliance

I was originally interested in getting a lightwire appliance for my daughter, but after discussing the options with Dr. Hess, we decided to use an OrthoTain plastic myofunctional appliance instead.  This option is terrific for us because it allows us to have several months between in-office appointments (since we live so far away), with just some short Skype appointments in between as needed. 


Results Already!

My daughter started using her OrthoTain appliance just 2&1/2 months ago. While we were still getting into the routine of using the appliance, and not yet being terribly consistent with it,we were pleasantly surprised to see that after one month we could already observe more space between our daughter's top teeth.
Before Treatment - There is no space at all between her upper teeth (the space on the bottom is where a baby tooth has been lost).
After 3.5 weeks of Treatment - There is a new space between two of her upper teeth.

After 5 weeks of treatment - There are spaces on both sides of her upper middle teeth (this was just prior to her losing her top two middle teeth, which is why one of them looks slightly pushed backwards).

After 11 weeks of treatment - Now my daughter has lost her two upper middle teeth, and an additional bottom tooth.  There is now plenty of space for her new top teeth that are growing in!

At my daughter's recent in-office follow-up appointment, we learned that her mild cross-bite has already been remedied through the use of her orthodontic appliance. We are looking forward to seeing even more space develop in her upper and lower dental jaws.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa (nutrient-dense : gluten-free)

This recipe is my twist on the typical spaghetti dinner.  I saute up plenty of fresh veggies, add some ground beef and marinara, and then serve it over top of some quinoa.  Yum!

Italian Beef and Veggies Over Quinoa
Serves 6-8
  • Quinoa:
  • Italian Beef and Veggies
    • 2 Tb butter, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 1 large white onion, chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped
    • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
    • 8 medium cremini mushrooms, chopped
    • 1&1/2 pounds ground beef, preferably from grassfed cows
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jar of Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, 26-ounces (or your favorite marinara sauce)
    • celtic sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    • shredded raw cheddar cheese, to garnish
  1. Soak the quinoa: In a glass bowl, cover the quinoa with filtered water, stir in a splash of apple cider vinegar, and allow to soak at room temperature for 4-18 hours.  Soaking the quinoa in an acidic medium helps in reducing the anti-nutrients (such as phytic acid) that are present in grains.  I find that quinoa gets rather mushy when allowed to soak for too long, so I often only soak it for a few hours before cooking it.
  2. Start cooking the onion: About 40 minutes before dinner, melt 2-Tb butter in a 4-quart heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and saute. It is fine if the onion gets a bit of browned color; that means it is caramelizing and releasing its natural sweetness. (I love to use my bamboo spatula for this recipe.)
  3. Drain and rinse the quinoa: In the meantime, drain the quinoa in a mesh colander.  Then rinse the quinoa VERY well.  The more the quinoa is rinsed before cooking, the less bitter it will be. I like to rinse the quinoa until the water becomes crystal clear.  
  4. Cook the quinoa: In a medium pot, combine the quinoa with about 3-4 cups of filtered water. The amount of water depends on how long the quinoa was soaked; use less water if you had a long soaking time, or use closer to 4 cups of water if the soaking time was short.) Add a sprinkle of salt.  Bring to a low boil.
  5. Add the carrots and celery to the onion: Once the onion has been cooking for 5-10 minutes and is becoming translucent, add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and saute for a few minutes. You may need to reduce the heat a bit if the pot it getting too hot.
  6. Skim the foam from the quinoa: Once the quinoa has come to a low boil, use a shallow spoon to skim off the foam. Discard the foam. Then add the butter to the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir occasionally.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the veggies: Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and saute for a few minutes until the mushrooms have released their liquid and shrunken down some.
  8. Add the beef to the veggies: Crumble the ground beef into the veggies. Add 1.5 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beef is mostly browned. The beef does not need to be completely cooked during this step.
  9. Add in the garlic: Add the garlic to the veggies and cook for about a minute, until the garlic is fragrant.
  10. Add the pasta sauce: Pour the pasta sauce over the veggies and beef. Stir to combine, then put a lid on the pot and let it simmer.
  11. Check the quinoa: It will be done when all of the moisture has been absorbed and it is nicely soft.  If the quinoa is done before everything else, just put a lid on the pot and turn off the heat.
  12. Simmer the beef and veggies: Let the beef and veggies simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  13. Shred the cheese: In the meantime, use a box grater to shred the cheese.
  14. Plate it up: To assemble the meals, start with a scoop of quinoa, add some beef and veggies, then top with a generous sprinkle of cheese. My kids and husband prefer to have a smaller amount of quinoa with more of the beef and veggies. I prefer to have equal amounts of both. 
  15. Enjoy!

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Strawberry Banana Muffins (grain-free : gluten-free : nutrient-dense : primal)

As we near the end of strawberry season, I've made these strawberry banana muffins for my daughter, who still does best avoiding grains most of the time. This recipe is grain-free, and uses a combination of coconut flour with ground nuts.  A bit of lemon zest adds a bright flavor to these delicious muffins.

Strawberry Banana Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper cups.  (I prefer If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins do not stick to the sides of the cups.)
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sucanat, salt, vanilla extract, almond extract, and lemon zest in a large bowl.  (A microplane zester works fantastically to zest the lemon.) If using an immersion blender, pulse a few times to combine. Otherwise, mix to combine with a whisk or mixer.
  4. Add the honey to the butter and stir slightly.  Pour this mixture into the wet ingredients and blend well with immersion blender or mixer.
  5. Measure out the coconut flour.  Since coconut flour clumps, it will need to be sifted if you are not using an immersion blender.
  6. Combine the coconut flour with the ground nuts and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Whisk or mix to combine.
  7. Pour the dry mixture into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Use an immersion blender or mixer to thoroughly combine all ingredients, making sure there are no lumps.  (Since coconut flour does not contain gluten, there is no worry of over-mixing it). The mixture will get quite thick. 
  8. Stir in the mashed banana.  Then stir in the strawberries.
  9. Scoop the muffin batter into the paper cups.  I like to use a 3-Tb scoop for this, but you could just use a large spoon.
  10. Bake muffins in 325 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, until muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  11. Remove from oven and cool a bit before serving. Serve with a small pat of butter and a glass of raw milk.

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alternatives to Conventional Braces

This post is the third in a series about alternatives to conventional orthodontics. 
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Okay, so my 7-year-old daughter needs orthodontics for her crowded teeth, and we're not using conventional braces because I want her to have more than just straight teeth. I want to actually encourage her dental arches to grow so that her teeth have plenty of space.

Orthodontic Appliances That Encourage Jaw Growth

I have learned of several different orthodontic options that can encourage the dental arches to grow, rather than just straightening the teeth. Because these options cause the bones to grow to accommodate the teeth, there is not a risk of orthodontic relapse like there is with braces. All of these appliances have the additional advantage that they can be used by children as young as 5 years old.

Lightwire Appliances

Image courtesy of AAGO
These include the original lightwire appliance, called Crozat, which was developed in the 1920's, as well as more recently-developed appliances such as Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF) and Kernott Universal.  All of these lightwire appliances are made with a flexible, thin-diameter wire that is formed into a removable appliance.  These appliances combine function (chewing, swallowing, etc) along with light forces on the teeth, both of which encourage the dental arches to grow.

The lightwire appliances have the advantage that they are not very obvious when being worn, and may even go completely unnoticed by others. One disadvantage of the lightwire appliances is that the wire can sometimes become damaged during insertion or removal.

A good website for finding practitioners that use lightwire appliances is the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics. ALF practitioners can be found on the ALF Orthodontics Website.

Image courtesy of AAGO

Plastic Myofunctional Appliances

image from
Plastic appliances that encourage dental arch growth include the original OrthoTain (developed in the 1960's) as well as the MyoBrace. Just as with the lightwire appliances, the plastic myofunctional appliances work through correcting the function (chewing, swallowing, etc) along with light forces on the teeth that encourage dental arch growth.  Plastic myofunctional appliances are typically worn at night as well as for several hours during the day.

Plastic myofunctional appliances have the advantage that they are not custom-made for each patient; rather they are preformed in specific sizes. They do not have the potential for damage like the lightwire appliances do.  One disadvantage of plastic myofunctional appliances is that they are bulkier than lightwire appliances, so they are more obvious when being worn.

I have not been able to find a good website that provides a directory of dentists/orthodontists that use plastic myofunctional appliances.  However, my daughter's dentist, who I found through the American Academy of Gnathologic Orthopedics site, does use plastic myofunctional appliances as well as lightwire, so that site might be a good place to start.
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What's Next?

In my final post of this series, I will detail our experiences in finding a suitable dentist, our experiences thus far with using an orthodontic appliance, and some pictures of the results we have experienced.

Other Articles in This Series

My 7-Year-Old Needs Orthodontics! EEK! 
Why We're NOT Using Conventional Braces
Alternatives to Conventional Braces  
Selecting an Orthodontist or Dentist, and Our Rapid Results  
My Daughter's Orthodontics - One Year Update 
My Daughter's Orthodontics - Three Year Update

Do you have any experience with non-conventional orthodontic options?