Jaw, Lips, and Tongue
How do the jaw, lips, and tongue work together?
They work in harmony, however, independently of each other for breathing, eating/swallowing, and speaking.
Your jaw is important for alignment of your body. It opens your mouth for receiving food, brings the teeth together for chewing, and provides the stability for speaking in a way other people can understand you by preventing slurring.
Your lips are natures braces; they hold your teeth in place. They also keep food and liquid from falling out of your mouth when eating and drinking.
Your tongue provides the stability of your mouth and body. It supports efficient respiration when it is kept up in the roof of your mouth. Your tongue mixes your food with saliva while you're chewing and helps control the food in your mouth to prevent from accidentally aspirating your food (swallowing your food into your lungs). The tongue is responsible for starting your swallow. Your tongue is essential for making speech sounds appropriately.
Any interruption in the form or function can result in a muscle imbalance. A muscle imbalance can cause pain, headaches, speech issues, picky eating, chewing issues, swallowing issues, and more.
Immature Swallow Pattern
A tongue thrust is an orofacial muscle imbalance where the tongue becomes overused during talking, swallowing, and eating. The tongue may be underused during breathing. Tongues are opportunistic muscles which move forward into any space available, kind of like water. In the case of swallowing, the tongue moves forward to seal the front of the mouth during swallowing due to a misalignment of teeth that's already present. In the case of talking, the tongue is very visible on the outside of the teeth. In the case of breathing, the tongue may have a low, forward posture in the presence of an open mouth at rest.
Oral Habit Elimination
Oral Habits include thumb/digit sucking, pacifier sucking, nail biting, object chewing, cheek sucking, tongue sucking, etc. These are noxious habits that provide comfort usually during times of passive activity, hunger, stress, and/or nighttime sleep.
Oral habits can change the growth patterns of the jaw and face including tongue and mouth posture, abnormal swallowing patterns, and more.
An obstructed airway can lead to future negative conditions. The nose acts as a filter for nasal breathing, trapping debris, bacteria, etc. If it becomes obstructed, your body will began to mouth breath. This is were issues will start to present themselves. To allow for the airflow to travel, the tongue lays flat on the bottom of your mouth instead of resting against the roof of the mouth. Like the picture to the right, it begins a domino effect.
The effects of mouth breathing:
When your primary intake of air is through the mouth instead of the nose, the body will begin to compensate itself. When an open mouth rest posture, the tongue comes down with the lower jaw and rests on the the lower teeth.. The tongue no longer rests against the palate and applies pressure to the cheeks, which causes a deformation of the palate from a U-shape to a V-shape.
Alongside the incorrect oral rest posture, swallowing patterns become affected. The tongue would push and rest against the teeth instead of the palate. The swallowing patterns in turn affect the eruption of the lower lateral teeth and allows for over eruption of the front lower teeth. This disparity is known as the bicuspid drop-off. Our domino effect then lead to difficulty with closing the mouth in natural position. The lower jaw shifts and forces the temporomandibular joint to rub against the socket
TMJ or TMD
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Joint Disorders include:
Headaches, whether it is tension around the temporalis muscle or a migraine
Sound and/or feeling of popping and clicking of jaw with movement
Locked jaw, or restriction of jaw movement
Face, neck and/or back pain and/or pain behind the eyes
Ringing of the ears
Vertigo or dizziness
We work alongside TMJ specialist to help treat the root cause, not the symptoms. Myofunctional therapy helps correct oral rest posture and nasal breathing.
The release of a tongue tie or cheek/lip tie is not as simple as one may think. It is a multi-step process that involves preparation prior to the release and maintenance with aftercare treatment. Like any surgery, one must attend physical therapy to strengthen and retrain body to the modification. Myofunctional therapy works to strengthen and retrain the tongue, lip, and cheek muscles to control their new range of motion.
We work alongside lactation consultants to help mothers, who have difficulties with breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding. Difficulties may be include:
Difficulty with latch