The Impact of Your Tongue's Resting Position on Your Oral Health
The resting position of your tongue can impact everything from chewing and swallowing to your appearance and even how you speak. Issues caused by improper tongue position are known as orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) and are often caused by upper airway obstruction, chronic thumb-sucking or pacifier use, and orofacial muscular and structural abnormalities.
OMDs can also occur when an abnormal lip, jaw, or tongue position interferes with the development or function of the mouth and face. Not only can OMDs contribute to malocclusion such as overbites and underbites, but they can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Abnormal lip, tongue and jaw position can impact regular tongue activity and saliva flow, which play an important role in fighting bacteria and plaque. The good news is, if you have an OMD, there may be options to resolve the issue.
Myofunctional therapy uses a combination of exercises to change the bite, breathing, and facial posture. These exercises focus on the soft tissues of the face, neck, and mouth to try to create an optimal tongue position and oral rest posture.
How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?
A registered dental hygienist, with a Certification of Orofacial Myology, will create an individualized treatment plan based on your specific issue. This plan will be designed to retrain your orofacial muscles with the goal of enhancing function. Some other goals of your training might include normalizing the resting posture for your tongue and lips, establishing nasal breathing patterns, or getting rid of harmful habits such as sucking your thumb.
As you work on retraining these patterns, you will become more aware of your mouth and facial muscles. You will be given exercises to complete at home to help you focus on ideal swallowing, breathing, and resting patterns. Routinely practising these positions and movements will increase your muscle strength and coordination.
Eventually, myofunctional therapy should improve your OMD symptoms. You may start to notice that you are speaking more clearly, eating more effectively, or sleeping better.
Signs of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Your certified dental hygienist can help identify the common symptoms of OMDs. These include:
- Misaligned teeth
- Tongue thrusting
- Facial pain
- Speech problems
- Mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea
- Stomach aches
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your clinic to set up an appointment with our Registered Dental Hygienist and Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist, Marianne.