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Can Jaw Structure Cause Sleep Apnea?

Posted on 11/15/2023 by Ankur Johri
Asian woman holding the side of her mouth from pain should see Lehigh Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Allentown, PAWhen you have sleep apnea, your sleep patterns and breathing are interfered with during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, the common type of the disorder is when an individual's breathing is interrupted by obstruction of the airway. Sleep apnea can contribute to choking sensations, snoring, and running out of breath or gasping for air when you are asleep.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea conditions are classified according to their causes. There is central sleep apnea or CSA, whereby the brain's failure to signal the muscles controlling breathing correctly is the cause. There is also obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. Here, the throat muscles loosen and fall back to obstruct the airway in the process of breathing in. The other type is complex sleep apnea, which features both OSA and CSA.

How Is the Jaw Related to Sleep Apnea?

Incorrect positioning of the jaw and an abnormal size during birth can lead to obstructive sleep apnea. Here are jaw conditions that cause sleep apnea.


Some children are born with a lower jaw that is smaller than usual. This condition is known as micrognathia. It causes the tongue to retreat into the throat. The tongue's fall back into the throat jams the airway. This, in turn, causes short-term breathing failures.

TMJ Disorder

TMD is when the temporomandibular joint is incorrectly positioned, making it dysfunctional. It makes the jaw joint and muscles around it ache. The muscles in the back of the throat also relax, making the trachea or airway get obstructed when breathing in.

The oxygen amount in your body is lower without enough air. You will wake up briefly in your sleep, gasping for air without noticing or remembering. You may also snore or even choke during this time. Visit our offices for consultations if you or any of your family members have sleep apnea symptoms. Our oral surgeon can help with TMJ and sleep apnea treatment.

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