When I was watching myself speak in my Fussy Baby video, I saw myself in a totally different light. My face was not symmetrical because the left side was vertically longer than the right side. My lower jaw was not in horizontal alignment with my upper jaw and cranium. My eyes were uneven, and my right eye was more closed. My face was narrow. I saw more facial flatness than roundedness.
If I had had this work at birth, would I look different now? Possibly yes, the Gillespie Approach may have provided this perk along with its more important health benefits. Genes, proper nutrition, childhood injuries, and other factors are at play, but I feel birth trauma may also have an important role. Facial appearance has never been a factor for me in this work, but “good looks” for some people in this Kardashian culture are paramount.
Researchers have noted that attractive faces are more symmetrical, wider, and rounder. Let’s see if our approach can help to create that scenario.
Contorted-Head Shape: The Lopsided-Head Look
In 2008 Krissy Myers, Michael Myers, and I did years of research with about 600 infants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. We found that most of the babies had some cranial distortion, not visual but palpable. I made cranial symmetry an important part of the Baby Brain Score (BBS). A provider would check the newborn’s head shape minutes after birth. Any distortion would shoot up a red flag indicating immediate treatment.
When each baby in the Lancaster research was completed with the Gillespie Approach, we rechecked the head shape. Virtually all were symmetrical. Since the cranial bones then were primarily soft cartilage and intramembranous tissue and not ossified bone, a unique window of opportunity had presented for easier correction.
Facial Asymmetry: The Distorted-Face Look
When the large bones of the head are distorted, the smaller fascial bones in the cranium usually follow a similar pattern. The maxillary bones can be asymmetrical and the eyes may not be level or positioned at equal depth in the cranium. The mandible usually takes on the distortion of the maxillae in growth.
Also the facial bones may experience direct trauma during delivery. If the mother’s coccyx is stuck in flexion instead of normally going into extension, the face may be traumatized as it passes by on the inside of the sacrum. We felt that this anomaly may have caused facial distortion, TMJ trauma, and clinical nursing issues. I believe that what orthodontists and myofunctional therapists are trying to correct downstream years later should have been addressed and corrected upstream at birth.
Narrow Upper and Lower Jaws: The Flat-and-Thin-Face Look
The maxillary bones need to be wide to allow space for the adult teeth and optimal sinus and airway function. The mandible usually follows suit completing the fuller facial pattern.
Occasionally, we treated a baby with a narrow “V”-shaped palate. When I placed my index finger in the palatal vault, it got stuck in the V and never fully seated at the roof of the mouth. I remember working on that first baby for about ten minutes. When I rechecked the palate, I fully seated my finger and wiggled it from side to side like a normal infant palate.
I was beyond ecstatic. That baby’s face incredibly widened within minutes. I remember driving home thinking about how the dental profession would someday dramatically shift because of this work. It was truly one of the best days of my life.
Recessed Upper and Lower Jaws: The Pushed-Back-Face Look
Often we would see a baby with a pushed back upper jaw or a recessed lower jaw. These tissues needed to be freed up in therapy to allow for proper posterior airway space and sinus function. We need to encourage the normal facial growth of forward and downward to prevent later breathing issues like sleep apnea.
Years ago I saw a newborn from Baltimore with a pronounced recessed lower jaw. Doctors at Johns Hopkins wanted to correct it with a surgical mandibular extension. I believe the parents made a smart choice by opting for this work as the more conservative approach.
I realized that my face is a combination of the distorted, flat, thin, and pushed-back looks. Wow, no wonder Hollywood never called me. Unfortunately, no one was at my birth in 1947 to work on me. Also those aspects were never discussed before my orthodontic care in the 1950s; it was all about straight teeth and a good bite. More appropriate intervention at those junctures may have changed my appearance.
Tight Tongue and Oral Tissues
Each time we swallow the tongue needs to touch the roof of the mouth to help widen the newborn face. The cheeks and lips should have an equal balancing force with the tongue. For people with teeth, the tongue pushing out force and the cheeks and lips pushing in force create a balance keeping the teeth in their position in the dental arches.
Wherever there are muscle cells, fascia will be covering each cell like saran wrap. The tongue is no exception. We saw infant nursing issues because of fascial strain in the neck pulling into the tongue. We also felt strain in the oral soft tissues that needed to be released.
I have a theory why about two-thirds of orthodontic cases relapse as adults. Since all of the tooth buds are part of the fascial web in development, birth trauma creating fascial strain on each tooth bud may be part of why teeth become crooked.
After orthodontists move the teeth into proper position, the untreated strained fascial web from birth over time gradually pulls the teeth back into their former position. If that is true, releasing all the fascial strain at birth may later allow the teeth to later hold their new orthodontic position.
Tight Body Fascial Strain Pulling on the Face
When we did the Lancaster research, we found that the full-body fascial web can pull into the head and neck to create infant conditions. Thus, our goal became the complete release of the web, not just focusing on the head and neck areas. It is all connected.
In summary, before people start saying the Gillespie Approach is “the next big thing” to create perfect-looking children, I am in no way saying that it will make anyone look more attractive. But when done at birth, it may help people look more symmetrical with fuller rounded faces, a nice byproduct of the health benefits.