Is Your Tongue Decreasing Your Quality Of Life?
By: Martha Macaluso
Did you know that your mouth can affect your entire body, and that the position of your tongue makes a world of a difference to your health? As a Dental Hygienist, Myofunctional Therapist and educator, I can assure you that it does. For years medical and dental professionals have overseen the power of the oral cavity, and now are finally discovering that the position of the tongue has been the missing link to many illnesses. Yes! YOUR TONGUE!!! “The spot” where your tongue should sit is critical in the development of your airway and overall health.
So how can you tell if your tongue is in the correct spot?
Simple. The tip of your tongue at rest and during swallowing should be about a half inch behind your upper front teeth on the gums. This location is called “THE SPOT”. I bet you just checked, and realized that your tongue has not been up there all your life. Well…. There are many reasons why this could be.
How does my tongue position affect my health?
Your tongue is made up of eight muscles. It is one of the most critical organs in your body. The touhas the ability to shape your palate, the way your teeth are seated in your mouth, it influences your body posture, aides with your speech and determines the opening of your airway among other. The base of your tongue is located in the throat, and has the ability to shape your throat muscles. The rest of the tongue, which is located in the center of the oral cavity, is critical and essential in developing the upper jaw, the shape of your face, and your upper nasal airway. Your mouth is the gateway to your health. If there is an imbalance of your tongue, teeth, and breathing, a downward spiral of endless illnesses will be present such as:
- Sleep Disordered Breathing- An umbrella term used to describe a variety of chronic sleep disorders, in which your breathing throughout the night is impacted. This results in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, impaired learning and a decreased quality of life.
- Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders- Muscular disorders pertaining to the head and neck. They affect directly and indirectly your speech, learning, and breathing, relapse of braces, body posture, and overall health.
- Chronic Facial Pain- Pain that is present in either the head or neck region that no doctor seems to find a true reason for.
- Swallowing Disorders, Infant Feeding Problems, Postural Problems, Esthetic Changes and Many, many more…
Why is my tongue not in the correct spot?
The posture of your tongue depends on a variety of different things, but the most prominent reasons that contribute to this are:
- Restricted Lingual Frenum- The string under your tongue, which attaches to the floor of your mouth, may be restricted. When this happens, your tongue cannot function properly and affects the way you swallow.
- Mouth Breathing- When you breathe through your mouth your tongue will always sit on the floor of your mouth no matter how hard you try to keep it up there.
What can I do to get my tongue back up on “THE SPOT”?
- Keep your entire tongue plastered onto the roof of your mouth during rest- Place the tip of your tongue on “The Spot”, and bring the middle part of your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. While at rest, your tongue should always be here.
- Swallowing- During a normal swallow the tip of the tongue moves up to the spot, the middle of the tongue comes up and the tongue makes a slight suction motion to move the food down the esophagus. No major facial movements are present, and the tongue does not come forward and/or between the teeth.
- Lips Together- Keep your lips sealed at all times, except for talking
- Nose breathing- Keep your tongue up on the spot and breath in through your nose, while at rest. This can help the tongue adapt to its proper place.
The power of your tongue is enormous; if it is not in its proper balance neither will the rest of your body. Proper posture of your tongue, mouth and lips will help you achieve proper facial and body balance. Where is your tongue now?
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