Dental Arch Expansion at Age 50? My Journey to Airway Health.

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

"But Lauren, you have straight teeth... " I hear this every time I mention that I am undergoing expansion therapy to "broaden my smile". Truth be known, I am not doing this for cosmetic reasons, but more importantly to help prevent disease, and become the healthiest version of myself via better breathing. Having officially joined the "Fifty Club" there are other parts of my body I am trying vigilantly to prevent from expanding, but my dental arches are not one of them!

Below are 3 Reasons Why Expansion is Beneficial at Any Age:

1- The more room you have your for tongue, the better! Proper tongue placement while you sleep can prevent sleep disordered breathing; ranging from mouth breathing to snoring, even obstructive sleep apnea. The tongue is supposed to "live' in the palate, so when you lie down, the tongue is suctioned up snug in the palate. If your palate is vaulted like shown in the figure below, there is no place for the tongue to go but back, blocking the airway. This can lead to Sleep Disordered Breathing /Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

2- Wider arches helps promote nasal breathing. The roof of the mouth, also known as the palate, is also the floor of the nasal cavity. The wider your palate, the wider your nasal cavity. Underdeveloped jaws/narrow dental arches go hand in hand with a vaulted palate. Expansion will help lower this vault, increase the nasal cavity volume, thus promoting better nasal breathing. As you can see by the pictures below, historically the human arches have been wide. Malocclusion (bad bite,) and sleep apnea were a rarity.

This is apparent if you visit the Museum of Natural History and look at the prehistoric skulls. The dental arches are wide and can even support the wisdom teeth! Today, due to our soft food/ westernized diet, we have shrunken our jaws, leading to sleep disordered breathing ranging from mouth breathing to snoring and ultimately obstructive sleep apnea. A good read on this topic is Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic by Paul R. Erlich and Sandra Kahn.

3- If you are not a nasal breather, you are not a healthy human being! The human being is designed to be an obligatory nasal breather. If you were not a nasal breather while growing and developing due allergies, congestion, or habit. you were a mouth breather. Mouth breathing is on the Sleep Disordered Breathing spectrum and is directly correlated to the underdevelopment of your jaws. Simply stated, nasal breathing promotes growth and development, mouth breathing inhibits it.

There are many hidden maladies of Sleep Disordered Breathing such as; ADHD, GI distress/ reflux, day time drowsiness (automobile accidents), depression, anxiety, ED, upper respiratory infections, ear infections, restless sleep/wakes often, night sweats, bruxism/teeth grinding, bed wetting, nightmares/night terrors. Learn more on this topic from Two Top Airway Educators, Dr. Ben Miraglia and Dr. Felix Liao in their webinar.


Narrow Arches, Vaulted Palate, Wide Arches, Wide Palate,

Narrow Nasal Chamber Wide Nasal Chamber- Wisdom teeth!

To learn more about the history of sleep apnea and the cause of malocclusion take a look at this short video:

My "Why"

My "why" in deciding to get expansion is to help me combat daytime fatigue and provide better quality sleep to live my healthiest life! Come join me on my Airway Health Journey. Subscribe to my Airway Health Solutions You Tube Channel: