If the tongue and lips are not functioning correctly, crowded teeth and underdeveloped jaws are the result. These are called incorrect myofunctional habits. If function and jaw shape are correct, there is plenty of room for the teeth. Hereditary factors or big teeth in small jaws are not responsible for crowded teeth or incorrect jaw development. The real culprits are mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, reverse swallowing and thumb sucking, which are known as incorrect myofunctional habits. The tongue, the major culprit in Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), will block the airway by moving backwards toward the throat during sleep, when there is not enough room for it in the mouth. By orthopedically creating space for the tongue and training it to swallow properly, the airway’s total volume greatly increases.
Another thing to watch out for is if you’re swallowing the wrong way, with lots of movement in the bottom lip. Incorrect swallowing is when the tongue pushes forward and the lips push back when swallowing. When this happens your front teeth will be pushed backwards and this also causes your teeth to be crowded. A child swallows twice per minute and if they have an incorrect (reverse) swallowing pattern, the facial muscles will push backwards against the direction of growth, preventing the face from developing to its genetic potential.
The tip of your tongue should rest gently behind your top front teeth. The border of your tongue should be gently in contact with the roof of your mouth, right where the teeth and gums meet. Your teeth should be slightly apart with your jaw very relaxed.
To be able to relax the tongue and jaw, try the Jaw joint stretch: Press the tip of your tongue onto the roof of your mouth, directly behind your top front teeth without touching them. Next, use your tongue to apply gentle pressure. Slowly open your mouth as wide as you can, then slowly close it shut. Stop at the point where you feel discomfort.
Airway and Sleep Group’s Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy corrects the oral posture of the muscles of the face and can be used to correct behavior patterns caused by not resting the tongue in the roof of the mouth. Call 703-646-9950 to set up a consultation.