A Dentistry IQ report examines oral rest posture, a factor that may contribute to the development of sleep apnea and snoring.
There are many factors that influence the development of snoring and sleep apnea. Diet, weight, and neck circumference often play a role in development of OSA. However, according to prominent ENT and sleep apnea expert Steven Park, MD, OSA is actually a craniofacial problem. (1) Patients with smaller jaws have smaller airways. Constricted arches leads to less volume inside of the mouth, which lessens the space necessary for good tongue posture. The maxilla includes the nasal floor and is not only the roof of the mouth. Therefore, a high narrow arch leads to a narrowing of the side to side distance of the nose. (1) A high palatal vault may lead to deviation of the nasal septum. (1)
When making the connection between developing oral and facial structures in children and snoring and OSA in adults, we need to look at a factor that often goes unnoticed: oral rest posture (ORP). ORP refers to the proper position of our muscles when we are not eating or speaking. In a healthy situation, our lips should be lightly touching and breathing takes place through the nose. Our tongue tip should rest on the incisive papilla while the dorsum of the tongue should rest on the palate. (2) The delicate balance between the forces of orofacial muscles is integral in maintaining good structural integrity. When the tongue rests on the palate, it creates an outward force on the maxillary arch. This force is balanced by the inward forces of the buccinators and lips. (3,4)