People have been asking about the nasal strips lately and I promised I would write a post detailing what they do and why they could be useful or even necessary.
Why would I use those? My nose is fine.
Let me first start out with a statistic: in western countries, between 70 and 80 per cent of the population have impacted third molars (AKA wisdom teeth).
While these are sometimes asymptomatic (initially at least) this highlights a fundamental issue with the fulfilment of our genetic potential.
Wisdom teeth have often been referred to as vestigial (something that becomes functionless or obsolete in the course of evolution), citing the overwhelming prevalence of dysfunction and removal.
It has been said that our foliage eating ancestors had larger jaws for chewing tough plant foods and since we no longer have the same diet, our jaws have shrunk to a smaller size.
To my mind, this isn't really plausible seeing as the first dental school opened in 1828, and without the assistance that dentists provide, it’s likely that complications related to wisdom teeth (infections, cysts, abscesses, etc.) left mostly untreated would have caused serious issues in the population with such a high rate of affected people.
There is also a book called Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (catchy title, no?) by a dentist named Weston A. Price which details the study of 15 different isolated cultures of people on five continents. Price’s research shows clear and repeated photographic evidence of perfect dental arch formation with third molar alignment, provided the people were following their traditional diet, which then completely deteriorated within two generations of eating low nutrient, highly processed, modern foods.
Why am I banging on about teeth, you ask?
It is difficult to assess someone’s nasal airway capacity at first meeting, and it is also difficult for them to self-assess unless they have a severe and therefore obvious deficiency.
An easy question to ask however is "have all your wisdom teeth come through?" — If the answer is no (almost always) then we have an indication of suboptimal maxillofacial development.
If we don't have enough space in the mandible (lower jaw) to fit the wisdom teeth, it is highly likely that our upper jaw (maxilla) is underdeveloped also. If our maxilla is underdeveloped, it has a flow on effect on our vomer, sphenoid and ethmoid bones, which influence our nasal cavity size and function.
The point is, if you are in the 70-80% of the population who didn’t have all of your wisdom teeth come in properly, you likely have a reduced physical capacity to nasal breathe, this ranges from almost imperceptible to quite debilitating when we consider the important role that nasal breathing plays in our health.
This is the reason for using the strips, they can potentially provide a short-term return to our naturally intended capacity.