Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CPAP Machines Cause Facial Changes

According to research published in the October Issue of the journal Chest, wearing a CPAP mask can change the shape of your face. Researchers in Japan and Canada x-rayed 46 patients (41 men and 5 women, average age56) who were using CPAP machines for treatment of sleep apnea. X-rays were taken before patients started using the machine and after they had used the machine for at least two years (on average 35 months). Although previous research had shown that these changes occurred in children, this is the first time evidence of changes in facial physiognomy have been linked to CPAP use.

According to researchers, the people who used the CPAP machine experienced significant changes in the shape of their dental arches, as well as changes in the relationship between their upper and lower jaws. Several variables contributed to the overall shift of the jaw backward. Although the patients did not self-report the changes in their face shape, the researchers expressed concern at the trend in the changes.

The concern is that by pushing the jaw backward, CPAP may worsen obstructive sleep apnea in the long term. A recessed jaw reduces space for the tongue and may make the tissues of the airway more likely to collapse.

An alternative to CPAP is oral appliance therapy, which works by moving the jaw forward to help keep the airway open. Oral appliances have not been shown to alter the shape of the face or dental arches.

To learn more about sleep apnea treatment options, please talk to a local sleep dentist today.

posted by Dr. Candelaria at 3:20 PM