An Embarrassing Admission

January 25, 2011

I was flipping through the channels this past weekend and just happened to land on PBS, where they were doing a special on the Lawrence Welk Show. I have to admit that I used to watch this show in the 70s, and still to this day, if I ever stumble upon this show, I’ll watch it for the great big band music and singing.

I initially began watching to listen to the music, but as I observed the singers, I was truly impressed by their wide jaws and fully developed cheek bones. If you look at younger adults these days, you’ll see how narrow their facial structures are, with many having underdeveloped lower jaws. It’s a frightening thought that this situation is now pandemic throughout the modern Western world. What this means is that having smaller jaws can lead to smaller breathing passageways, leading to less efficient sleep, with all the various medical, psychological, and emotional consequences of not ever being able to obtain deep, quality sleep.

How many of you observe people’s faces and analyze their jaw structures?

13 Responses to “An Embarrassing Admission”

  1. Heather on January 25th, 2011 8:46 pm

    I have seen this to be a problem for my own 5 year old son with OSA. He and his older brother have also been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Connective Tissue Disorder and smaller, even recessed jaws seem to be more common with connective tissue disorders, from what I’ve seen.
    My son has a small, recessed jaw and an overbite. I have noticed when I pull his mandible forward during sleep to align his bite, his OSA symptoms go away. It would seem a good solution to give him an orthodontic device, but I understand those aren’t recommended for children. (???)

  2. Steven Park, MD on January 25th, 2011 9:21 pm

    Heather,,

    Without looking at your sons, I can’t make any specific recommendations, but CPAP can be used even for children with OSA. Mandibular advancement devices can’t be used, but there are a number of orthodontic/appliance options that could help to expand the jaws in 3 dimensions. I’m not sure how young you can go with these options, but these include ALF (advanced lightwire functionals), Bioblock, Homeoblock, and DNA Appliance. Other options include orthognathic surgery, or even distraction osteogenesis, but these are much more aggressive.

  3. Anna on January 26th, 2011 11:18 am

    Yes, now that I have learned about the many health issues due to underdeveloped jaws, I see under-developed jaws on people around me every day. It’s hard NOT to notice the prevalence of the condition once the telltale signs are recognized. Profile views, in particular, are very telling.

    That is why I chose Biobloc appliance treatment for my son instead of conventional orthodontics performed locally, even though the office visits with Dr. Hang require a long drive several counties away.

    I can’t change my own slightly underdeveloped jaw shape and position because as an adult, I don’t have the growth potential needed for non-surgical jaw expansion, but I’ve recently started orthodontic treatment, too, to correct some crowding and widen my dental arch. I hope that the extra room created for my tongue will improve my breathing somewhat, especially at night.

  4. Dr. Deb on January 26th, 2011 11:20 am

    I do this all the time now.
    this observation about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and smaller jaws is interesting; I was going to research this because yesterday I read that in Ehlers-Danlos there is an association with both orthostatic intolerance and CFS; symptoms that can be seen in SDB.

  5. Robert V. on January 26th, 2011 8:11 pm

    Unfortunately, since being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea five years ago, I have become obsessively afflicted with “jaw observance”. Recently at a handbell recital by 30 young women I could only find one who appeared to have a well-developed jaw. My obsession took away much of my enjoyment of the excellent music.

    My wife and I see about 50 movies each year. Here I notice that almost all the actors/actresses have well-developed jaws. I wonder if the directors and producers making the selections are aware of the importance of the jaw to health or do they just have a general template for what makes an attractive actor/actress?

  6. Ann H W on January 27th, 2011 11:33 am

    OK, Dr. Park, you’ve got me on the ‘jaw observance’ train also!

    I was looking at pictures of myself when I was younger and noticed a significant difference in the position of my jaw. In my early 20’s, my jaw was much more prominent than it is today at 60. Over the past ten years I have developed diagnosable sleep apnea and I do think that my breathing has gotten worse.

    Coincidentally, my teeth have moved around over the past two years or so, and I have been clenching my jaw. It wasn’t bad enough that my dentist recommended orthodontia, so I had to ask him about it.

    I started orthodontia a few months ago for a re-do of my teenage work [yes, 4 extractions back then]. Immediately I noticed that my sleep breathing was better, as I had to hold my jaw forward at night.

    The ortho noticed that my jaws weren’t aligned properly – the left side teeth were straight up-and-down over each other leaving too much room on the right. I sleep mostly on my right side with my arm under my head, which has pushed my jaw to the left, perhaps contributing to this change over a long time. I didn’t notice this pushing of the lower jaw to the left until the newly installed braces forced me to adjust my sleep position.

    I am planning to have another sleep study soon to see what changes have happened. I will also persist on the dental side to see what additional benefits I can find as this goes along. Thanks to your enlightening conference calls I’m in a much more informed position to manage all my healthcare providers.

  7. Dr. Deb on January 29th, 2011 12:19 am

    what I want to know is if any other parents out there check on their kids at night and make sure they are not sleeping on their backs! my son has my jaw and I anticipate him having the same problems, it’s just a matter of time if it’s not happening silently already.

  8. malvin on January 29th, 2011 6:01 am

    Hi,

    I am an OSA sufferer and recalled how my grand mother die in 1983 during my high school time. She was obese and a snorer with type 2 diabetic and eventually die of heart attack at the age of 72 years old. There is no doubt that she had OSA. In 2006 my father die of heart attach too at the age of 67 years old and he was over weight and a snorer too with smoking for over 45 years. Both of them have round faces and small jaws with hypertensions historically. Sadly, these OSA problems been around for far too long and ignored by many in the medical and well being fields. Hope that one day sleep study is part of the screen test for those have hypertensions, diabetics, over weight or obese. This is too crucial and life threatening.

    We inherit the good, the bad and the ugly but make the best out of it ( married someone who has better jaw).

    Cheers,

  9. Jim Hales, DDS on February 1st, 2011 8:43 pm

    Highly endorse DNA appliance by Dr. Dave Singh, Portland, Oregon. Author of, Epigenetics. I believe Dr, Dave is a genius and I have trained under Dr. Singh and have used the DNA appliance several, times with amazing results. Epigenetics/DNA is The Way for ortho and sleep/snoring problems. Years ago four bicuspid extractions were commonplace in ortho treatment. With Singh’s work, extractions will be essentially non-existent. We need more room in our mouth not less. Mr. Tongue says give me space and do not fence me in.

    2-1-11 Doc Hales

  10. L-D on December 1st, 2011 9:02 pm

    Excellent observation. I’m actually surprised by how little this gets noticed.

    Read Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price to understand why this this the case nowadays.

  11. Steven Park on December 1st, 2011 9:53 pm

    L-D, if you read my book, you’ll see that Dr. Price’s book forms one of the foundations of my sleep-breathing paradigm.

  12. Noam Sadovnik on November 22nd, 2012 12:46 pm

    Hi,

    Do you have a preference between the various appliances you mentioned such as ALF, homeoblock, DNA?

    What about in adults?

  13. Steven Park on November 22nd, 2012 10:12 pm

    Noam,

    No preference. It’s more a matter of dentist location, and experience. Good luck.

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