Dr. Nammy Patel from Green Dentistry sits down with John Maher to explain craniofacial epigenetics. She talks about how this pain-free process can treat sleep apnea and help to improve appearance in people who want a stronger jaw line or more symmetry in their face. 

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, Founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best selling book, Age With Style: Guide to a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. Today, our topic is craniofacial epigenetics. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John. Thank you for having me.

What Is Craniofacial Epigenetics?

John: You’re welcome. Yeah. So a couple of big words there. What is craniofacial epigenetics? And what does it treat?

Dr. Nammy: So craniofacial means the brain or the skull and the face, and epigenetics means that we can activate certain gene expression. When we put those things together, what it actually means is that we have a synthetic appliance that’s going to mimic the natural environment and cause a specific response. For example, another example would be the Pavlov’s dog, right? We give him a response. We ring the bell, and then the dog comes. And that’s a physiological response that happens in the outside environment. What we’ve now learned is we can actually do that in our own bodies, which is amazing. So that way, what we are doing is we’re looking at which of the genes are being expressed. We’re not changing the DNA. The DNA is set the way it is. Right? You’re born with one set of DNA. We can’t change it. But what we can do is we can make certain parts of the DNA work and activate in a specific environment.

How Craniofacial Epigenetics Can Treat Sleep Apnea

Dr. Nammy: What that means is when it comes to sleep apnea, we can actually utilize a specific device in a specific string with a specific amount of force that we put onto certain parts of the palate in the lower jaw. And it will stimulate the jaw to grow. We used to think that we stopped growing when we were 25, our head was fully developed at 25, and that we didn’t have any more growth after that. And that’s absolutely false. Now, we have realized that we can elicit a response. We can put a little bit of pressure on the palate and that will get the palate to respond and it will grow. And that’s what we mean by craniofacial epigenetics.

What Does a Cranial Epigenetic Device Look Like?

John: What do these devices look like? And is that just something that I would wear at night when I go to sleep?

Dr. Nammy: You wear these devices about 16 hours a day. I would say 6:00 PM to about 10:00 AM in the morning or so. And what they do is they look like a retainer. So you put them in your mouth and they feel pretty comfortable. The first couple of days, it takes a little bit of getting used to, it’s kind of like an orthotic, and it feels a little awkward. But there’s zero pain, there’s zero discomfort, and you see the results in about two to three weeks. You start feeling it, which is the most important, because it’s actually a way that motivates you to continue the process and keep moving forward.

Craniofacial Epigenetics and Sleep Apnea

John: Okay. And how does the craniofacial epigenetics help with sleep apnea, specifically?

Dr. Nammy: Specifically, we are increasing the volume of airway. When we expand the jaw, we’re making room for that tongue and that tongue that’s squished in the back of the throat is able to have more space. When it has more space, we increase the volume of our ear tube, our volume — it goes from a straw to a garden hose, and we get better breathing that way.

Does Craniofacial Epigenetics Improve Appearance

John: And I understand that craniofacial epigenetics can also help improve facial appearance. How does that work?

Dr. Nammy: It does, and that’s the beauty of it. A lot of patients sometimes come because they want to make sure that their jaws have that chiseled square look. And we can actually go ahead and use epigenetics and stimulate the jaw to give it a nice chiseled appearance. A lot of times patients come in and they want symmetry, so one of their eyes is bigger than the other, or one side of their nose is different than the other, or they’ve got that bridge on their nose, and we’re able to fix all of that. And even a gummy smile, believe it or not, we’re able to fix a gummy smile naturally without having to put veneers on and without having to do surgery.

Benefits of Treating Sleep Apnea With Craniofacial Epigenetics

John: Okay. Any final thoughts on craniofacial epigenetics and its usefulness in treating sleep apnea and other issues like that?

Dr. Nammy: It is my number one go-to for the practice or patients, because it’s so natural and you can’t do any harm. And that’s what I love to do. The work I like to do is everything that I do in the practice, it will never hurt a patient. When I use lasers for deep cleanings, it never hurts. It always improves their condition. Same thing with craniofacial epigenetics, it always improves their condition, which is what I really love.

Contact Green Dentistry to Talk About Craniofacial Epigenetics

John: All right. Well, that’s great information, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.

John: And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website at sfgreendentist.com or call (415)433-0119.