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The Face of a Person with TMJ or Sleep Disordered Breathing Malibu, CA
profiles of a young woman and man

The Face can tell the Story of Overall Health

Attractiveness is a subjective te in our society and it’s often overvalued. Having a facial appearance that looks balanced and proportional also looks healthy. we can all agree that looking healthy is something we cam all agree upon. Fortunately, with regard to the face and jaws, when things look healthy it generally means that they are healthy. Good facial and jaw proportions reflect good general health.

Form Follows Function

Louis Sullivan (architect)

There are always exceptions to the rules but in the vast majority of cases of TMJ, as well as sleep disordered breathing, there is something you can see in their faces. Their jaw structures often tell the story of TMJ and Sleep Issues. I have written before about how TMJ and Sleep Issues often, but not always, go “hand in hand”. Well, both of these maladies have a “look”. I can walk into a restaurant and have a great idea as to who is most likely to have sleep or TMJ problems. The lower face is usually retruded. The lower jaw is almost always retruded. I expect an overbite in most cases of TMJ. An “overbite” is where the lower front teeth are set abnormally behind the upper front teeth. If I see the tongue when someone is talking or if I don’t see teeth prominently displayed during speech then I suspect a greater likelihood of TMJ and/or Sleep problems. If I see a narrow upper arch, a “narrow smile”, vs. a full smile where the teeth fill all the way to the corners of the mouth then I would suspect reduced tongue space and a greater likelihood of TMJ and/or Sleep Disordered breathing.

It’s important to note that TMJ affects women 10x more than men. It is unknown why that is but the studies and my own anecdotes reflex this reality. On the other hand, Sleep Apnea and sleep disordered breathing tends to affect men more than it does women.

If jaws are developed forward and teeth are developed forward and tongues have plenty of room in the oral cavity then it is much less likely that a person will have TMJ or Sleep Apnea. From a breathing standpoint think of your oral cavity like a sink. If you want the water to drain easily through the sink (the way air should pass easily through your airway) then you wouldn’t want a washcloth (or a tongue) to be sitting on the drain obstructing it’s flow. We need space in our mouth for proper breathing.

Being overweight and having jaws that are set back is a very strong red flag for Sleep Apnea; with that being said it is important, then, to develop faces forward as early as possible in a child’s development. These issues can definitely be addressed at any age but if you can set up the conditions for forward growth of the jaws and face at a young age you are going to lower chances of TMJ and sleep issues significantly. You are also going to deliver much more balanced and proportional faces.

Faces and jaws are, according to the primal blueprint, inherently engineered to develop forward. In the absence of developmental and environmental forces the jaws and faces and cheekbones and airways will develop properly. The factory setting is for jaws to develop forward, airways to be robust, tongue space to be uncompromised, teeth to be straight, not crowded in the arch. We know this from archeological studies and studies with indigenous cultures that reflect that in the absence of modern cultural conditions such as processed foods, increased allergens and the ensuing nasal obstructions, we will see very well developed jaw structures with space to fit all 32 teeth without crowding. We see upper front teeth that display prominently (think Barack Obama’s teeth) and we won’t see TMJ or sleep apnea. With children this means a much lower likelihood of developing behavioral issues like ADD, ADHD, anxiety and depression. This is because sleep disordered breathing, which is often initiated by underdeveloped jaws, is strongly associated with the aforementioned behavioral issues. There are many studies that reflect this fact.

In a conversation with prominent orthotropic dentist, Dr. Michael Mew, he remarked that “the face is the CV for your general health”. By that he meant that the way the face looks is a reflection of your overall health. It can tell you if someone has airway obstruction—a serious health issue, poor tongue and oral posture, and even whether or not you have behavioral issues like ADD, anxiety, etc..

If you showed me a person with a well developed jaw structure and teeth that show and a well proportioned face and then you showed me another person with retruded jaws and an overbite and teeth that are recessed then I would definitely suspect that, on average, the person with the well developed jaws is going to have better overall health. He or she will likely be more energetic and exhibit less fatigue over the course of a day. They will much more likely to have a longer life span, much less likelihood of having TMJ or neck pain or vertigo, and many other issues.

The evidence is overwhelming that how our face and jaws develop plays a huge role in our general health. This is why it is so important to insure that your children are not compromised by any forces that can retard the development of their jaws and airway. I would say that it is the most important thing you can do for their general health. After all, we are talking about your ability to process oxygen. Nothing is more important to the human species.

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