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Tongue's Role in Your Health

How important is your tongue? Your tongue is made up of many muscles making it an organ. [1]If the tongue is unable to move and function the way it is made to many other parts of your body get compromised. Some poor oral habits change the way your tongue is intended to function or from extra tissue below the tongue restricting movement. This piece of tissue is called a frenulum[2] and when the band of tissue is short the tongue has restricted movement. The tongue function being compromised also affects facial muscles, head and neck muscles, TMJ disorders, nasal breathing, posture, digestion, and sleep apnea.

A tongue tied down has limited range of motion. Not being able to move food around to chew and masticate properly.[3] This leads to food not being chewed enough and body works harder to digest. Aerophagia, swallowing of air, occurs also and this causes gas, bloating, food babies, burping, and gastric distress. The facial muscles and cheeks are not being utilized properly in the chewing so they lose muscle tone and the face begins to elongate and “melt.”[4]

Where is your tongue now? Bottom of your mouth, between your teeth, up in the palate? When the tongue is restricted, or has low muscle tone it stays in the bottom of the mouth. This is not where the tongue should rest. It needs to rest up in the palate, forming a natural retainer to keep your teeth aligned (why relapse in orthodontics, muscles were not adapted to new structure). The tongue is also connected to the hyoid bone and the base of the skull. When the tongue is low and forward the mouth hangs open. This drops your head to tilt forward and posture is affected. Now there is back and shoulder pain form the heavy head hanging where it shouldn’t.

Mouth breathing occurs when the mouth hangs open and caused from allergies, restricted tongue, oral habits pacifier or non-nutritional sucking. This takes away the function of the nose and many health problems are created. Mouth breathing limits the volume oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange that needs to occur for your body to receive optimal gas exchange.[5]Mouth breathing takes away your bodies natural nitric oxide that is created in the nasal passage.[6] Tonsils and adenoids increase in size from filtering more air. Increased periodontal disease and tooth decay, with a dry mouth plaque becomes thicker more virulent. Low tongue collapses arches of mouth resulting in crowded and crooked teeth.

TMJ and TMD disorders also relate to how the tongue’s position. Appliance and splints may not alleviate pain. The problem relates to muscles and habits or swallowing disorders. The function of these muscles not working properly puts additional stress and pressure on muscles that weren’t made for those tasks. Muscles involved with TMJ, 90% are not working correctly.[7]

Lastly grinding at night relates to sleep disorders. The upper airway is obstructed and the body is moving the jaw to open the airway because the tongue is not functioning properly. All the oral-facial and neck muscles need to be working correctly to have proper function.

Would Myofunctional Therapy Benefit You?

  • Breastfeeding Struggles of Latching

  • Bottle Feeding

  • Low Muscle Tone, Long Face Syndrome

  • Speech Problems

  • Allergies

  • Frequent Headaches

  • TMJ Problems

  • Thumb, digit, non-nutritional sucking

  • Bloating

  • Food Texture Sensitivity

  • Neck Pain

  • Nail or Lip Biting

  • Frequent Choking or Gagging, Trouble Swallowing

  • Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea, Snoring, even babies

  • Open Bite, Crowded Teeth

  • Orthodontic Relapse, Orthognathic Surgery

  • Gum Disease, Tooth Decay, Dry Mouth

What Can You Do Now?

As a myofunctional therapist I work with you to identify and evaluate your medical and dental history. Looking at environment, sleeping, diet, history of any items listed above and more to determine if the exercise based program would benefit your health. Success comes as the muscles re-pattern slowly over time creating new muscle memory to sustain a lifelong health! Contact me for your complimentary consultation and see if I can help you be a healthier you!





[5] Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown

[6] Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown


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