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  -> Jaw Health

Alternatives to Jaw Surgery


In regards to trying to fix sleep apnea and other jaw-related issues, there are some alternatives to jaw surgery or supplements to it. Very few of these except apnodent are true “replacements” in that their effects are likely smaller than a full jaw surgery or quasi surgical expanders.

1. Apnodent and it’s more sophisticated version ApnoTX are night-time devices to hold the lower jaw forward. For me apnodent provided strong night-time relief for managing sleep apnea in addition to acting as a night guard to prevent damage from teeth grinding. The device needs to be worn every night and periodically readjusted if you are doing any kind of orthodontics.

Generally, apnodent is more gentle than older versions of maxillary adjustment devices (MAD) and avoids bite re-alignments and other issues frequnetly associated with them. It can still exert pressure on the front teeth in some cases, which could be in an issue in rare situations of severely damaged front teeth or gumline.

Apnodent is one of the few “clean” ways to manage deficiency in the length of the jaw (especially lower jaw) without resorting to something as drastic as a jaw-lengthening surgery.

2. NCR
Neuro-cranial restructuring (NCR) acts on the spenoid bone and moves bones of the skull into a more symmetrical shape. While it does not directly act on the jaw, it can aid in widening the face and releasing tension that could be acting to make the jaw more narrow. In my case I tried to do a Maxillary Skeletal Expander without any associated surgery (DOME/SARPE/EASE), but with an NCR session before and after installing it. I had a split, which is rare for a man over 35. I suspect that this interaction can be fruitful, but only have myself as a data point.

3. Mewing
Proper tongue posture, putting the tongue on the roof the mouth is an important component of overall posture. Mewing is a popular exercise to do this. While it’s worth checking out, I generally don’t expect the exercise alone to significantly alter one’s facial structure past a certain age. And while it can potentially prevent further deterioration and that is important, I view it as more of a component, rather than a full solution.

4. Fixing forward head posture
Forward head posture can be both a cause and an effect of an under-developed lower jaw and associated TMJ issues. Being mindful of it and using various stretches whether from PRI or yoga is worthwhile. Some chiropractors can help as well. The impact to your health is likely very important, the impact on jaw issues specifically may vary.

5. Side sleeping (be careful with those shoulders).
“Sleeping position” is surprisingly contentious topic. Sleep apnea sufferers recommend sleeping not on the back to avoid one’s jaw dropping down and blocking the airway. Gym broscientists recommend sleeping on one’s back to aid proper shoulder rotation. Side sleeping seems to offer a compromise solution as long as you are careful about your shoulders. In either case, if you do choose to sleep on your back, it’s best to elevate your head as little as possible with potentially only a very thin pillow or only a neck pillow.

6. Chewing gum

Chewing mastic gum can strengthen jaw muscles and bones which can certainly improve aesthetics of your jaw.


7. Checking your dwelling for mold issues.

Mold allergies can be very disruptive to sleep and cause a number of other problems. It's worth having a plan for checking and destroying mold if it arises in one's house.


8. Whole Body Breathing:

Whole body breathing (also here) is a new technique that hopes to utilitize breathwork for improved skull growth.

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