Is the Shrinking Human Jaw Causing more Sleep Apnea?
Jun 15, 2020
More than 18 million adults in the U.S. suffer from sleep apnea today, and one major reason for that is the shrinking human jaw.
Research shows the human jaw has become significantly smaller since the days of prehistoric hunter-gatherers, further obstructing airways in modern humans. Cue the sleep apnea.
Why are our jaws betraying us? Paul Ehrlich, Ph.D., explains in his book “JAWS: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic” that this jaw-shrinking has been influenced by biological, cultural and dietary changes over time. We eat softer foods. We live indoors, where allergens are more concentrated. We have an increased propensity toward mouth-breathing, not to mention bad posture.
Anthropologists confirm that not only do the jaws of early humans lack the crowding or misalignment modern jaws often exhibit, they even had enough room for their wisdom teeth. In fact, in an interview with DOCS Education’s Incisor blog, Ehrlich explains there is no evidence that any of our ancestors ever had an off-kilter bite.
“Richard Klein, the top human paleontologist in the world, told me personally that in all the time he has been working with hunter-gatherer skulls, he had never seen one with serious malocclusion [crowding or bad bite],” he said.
What can be done?
So our ancestors may have had bigger mouths and wisdom teeth, but we have the edge when it comes to science and technology. Nashville Restorative Dentistry’s innovative solutions include at-home sleep tests and a simple, custom-made oral appliance to be worn at night that repositions the lower jaw and opens the airway. While some patients may require a CPAP machine, an oral appliance is much less intrusive and can be highly effective for people suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.
We understand the disruption that sleep apnea causes. Not only does it interfere with your own sleep, but if you’re snoring, you’re affecting your partner as well. We know lack of sleep affects your mood, focus and even your relationships.
You deserve to get your life back, and we can help. Schedule an appointment today to get started.