CPAP Can Cause Facial Skeletal Changes

Dentists have been saying this for years, but a recent Japanese study only confirms that there are subtle, but significant changes after even 2-3 years of CPAP use. The authors observed a reduction in the prominence of the upper and lower jaws. Not too unexpected, since constant pressure on the jaws can cause dental changes. Here’s an article that references the paper.

With every great treatment option, there will always be certain side effects. These changes are so small, that there’s no proof to date that it makes any clinical difference. It was also a 2-3 year study. Long term studies are definitely needed.

For those of you on long-term CPAP, have you noticed any changes to your bite?

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7 thoughts on “CPAP Can Cause Facial Skeletal Changes

  1. In three months months I will have my five-year anniversary of wearing a CPAP full face mask all night, every night. There are no changes to my bite that I can detect. But my mental and physical health have improved dramatically!

    I wonder in that study how tight the masks were? It is a common mistake to wear the mask tight to prevent leaks. However, if you read the instructions of the mask manufacturers you will find the masks work better and leak less if they are not adjusted tightly.

    Getting a mask that is sized properly and is designed to fit facial structures like yours is important. I think many people have not selected and fitted the mask properly and then overtighten the headgear to compensate.

    Getting involved in a good internet patient forum is also a good, easy, free way to get advice from CPAP users on selecting, fitting and adjusting masks.

  2. After 3 years on CPAP, I have noticed tremendous difference in my ability to sleep … but not the slightest change in my bite. One wonders if this is yet another very preliminary study that the media are making a big deal out of, even though the author of the study clearly states that he was unable to identify any significant correlations between craniofacial changes, demographic variables, or nCPAP duration of use. In addition, no patients self-reported any permanent changes of facial profile or occlusion. It’s interesting, but far too preliminary.

  3. Happy to finally see some information on this. As a long-time TMJ sufferer, this was one of the first things I thought of when I was first introduced to a CPAP mask. The benefit has been more than worth it but I have experienced changes to my bite that correspond with the area of pressure of the mask on my face and I am having to have my bite re-stabilized because of it. I think for most people with stable bites these changes are so slow as to be unnoticeable until a dentist mentions it.

  4. My bite recently changed dramatically. I lost the ability to close my molars. I have used a nasal mask for a year or so. I recently changed cusions just before the shift. I don’t know if it’s the jaw or the teeth.

  5. My CPAP is slightly changing the way my teeth fit together when I close my teeth together. My main complaint with it is it left a permanent crease in my skin and I don’t mean the temporary ones that you wake with that go away in a couple hours. It is somehow crunching my face up while I sleep and even the sleep study employees said I’m wearing it correctly. (They watch you overnight when you sleep). I am getting uglier due to this facial change.

  6. My Cpap has caused my teeth to shift, created a Diastama in the front, where before I had perfect alignment and no spaces. I can’t do without the CPAP but it makes me so sad that my bite is so altered that I never smile like I used to. I worked in dentistry all my life as a Dental Assistant and then Office Manager, but now that I am retired I cannot afford the ortho that would be necessary to restore my smile. My front teeth no longer occlude properly either. I sure wish someone had told me this was a possibility.

  7. I have definitely had my jaw alignment changed by full-face use of my CPAP mask. Been on a CPAP for about 7 years now, and in the last year I’ve found my jaw no longer aligns without assistance. (Chewing gum seems to ‘reset’ my jaw for a few hours.)

    Mostly it is an inconvenience, and one I will definitely live with since a CPAP is essential to my sleep hygiene.

    But at this time I wonder if it’s a permanent trade-off choice between “have correctly aligning teeth” and “breathing consistently in your sleep”.

    I’m not happy about it, but truth be told, if I have to choose, I choose the sleep.