The Hruska Clinic Integrator

"Mouth Management"

"Mouth Management"

Chewing food with your mouth open is not appropriate at the dinner table. If you were taught this growing up, thank your parents. The benefits of practicing this while eating far surpass simple politeness. Achieving optimal lip closure during mastication is pertinent to coordinating a proper swallow. Lip closure while eating also facilitates one to perform healthy nasal breathing.

Deviant swallow, aka reverse swallow, or other related oral craniofacial disorders fall under the catch-all term of "tongue thrust". People with tongue thrust will have a difficult time achieving lip closure. Tongue thrust is a condition when tongue rests, pushes, or protrudes anteriorly abutting the front teeth and/or laterally over the occlusal surfaces of the side/back teeth during swallowing. Tongue thrust does not only occur during swallowing; it can also exist during speech and at rest.

The abnormalities commonly observed throughout the oral/cranio/cervical and brachial regions of our patients compel us to study this area. As Postural Restoration ® trained physical therapists we care about posture, position, respiration and function. Improper placement or function of the tongue (as seen with tongue thrust) is associated with being a "mouth breather". When the tongue is placed low in the mandible at rest, the mouth tends to remain open. It is difficult for these patients to get tongue to rest in the roof mouth for proper seal to facilitate nasal inhalation. Mouth breathing is associated with poor posture in the head and neck region and thus decreases the size of the airway and increases stress on the mandibular-temporal and cervical joints.

Here at the Hruska Clinic, we see patients who suffer from pain and are referred for any number of conditions about the head and neck region: TMD, lock-jaw, migraines, tension headaches, neck pain, clenching/bruxing at night, sleep apnea, trouble sleeping, dizziness, just to name a few. Due to the fact that these issues can be treated from multiple disciplines, we work closely with a diverse team of professionals to coordinate the many dimensions of patient care. We design and provide individualized treatment plans to help patients achieve their optimal outcomes.

More on tongues in the next blog.