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Natural Awakenings Westchester / Putnam / Dutchess New York

Problematic Palate Can Be a Pain

Apr 01, 2012 03:16PM ● By By Dr. Michael Gelb

Dr. Michael Gelb

What does your palate look like? Is it high or is it low? What about your maxilla? Is it narrow or constricted? While each of these characteristics makes you different than the people standing next to you, each also can be the one reason you suffer from sleep apnea and they don’t.

The palate is the roof of the mouth; it separates the oral cavity from the nasal cavity. I have noticed that many of my patients who have a high palate also have a narrow or constricted upper jaw or maxilla. It is my belief that this narrow, vaulted maxilla is the culprit for many TMJ sufferers and many other sleep issues. I’ve also seen narrow, constricted maxillae in mouth breathers whose tongues never rested on the roof of the mouth, stimulating growth.  

Often times, a vaulted maxilla impedes proper nasal breathing, which leads to breathing-related sleep disorders and oxygen desaturation. Because the roof of the palate is the floor of the nose, an elevated palate reduces the nasal airway and increases nasal resistance.  

Also, anything that shrinks that palate or pulls the upper jaw back, such as bicuspid extraction or headgear, increases the risk for head and neck pain and sleep disorders. It’s common sense that the further the upper jaw is retruded or pulled back, the narrower the airway will be. The upper jaw controls the position and closing of the lower jaw; therefore, anything that narrows or retracts the upper jaw and upper teeth will retract or retrude the lower jaw. When the lower jaw is retruded, the chances of TMJ disorders, headaches, snoring and sleep apnea are increased.   

If you think that your palate is giving you trouble or is possibly causing you to suffer from TMJ or a sleep disorder, The Gelb Center can help. We specialize in treating TMJ, snoring and sleep apnea.

The Gelb Center is located at 12 Old Mamaroneck Rd., White Plains, NY, and 635 Madison Ave., NYC. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 914.686.4528 or visit