Clinically called Ankyloglossia. A common congenital anomaly where the lingual frenum (strap like tissue under the tongue, seen when the tongue is lifted) is abnormally short and may restrict tongue mobility. A restricted tongue is most often the cause of low or improper tongue posture at rest. When one's tongue is restricted (tongue tied) we likely will observe mouth breathing, open mouth posture, and a tongue thrust swallowing pattern. Ankyloglossia often causes facial and TMJ pain, clenching and grinding of teeth because of poor ability to dissociate tongue and jaw function. When there is a restriction of tongue mobility, the tongue cannot rest properly in the 'roof' of the mouth. This mild midline defect impedes the tongue's function to support both the hard and soft palate, stimulate forward facial growth, and widening of the jaw. A restricted tongue will also lead to a restricted airway. Babies commonly experience gastrointestinal distress from 'gulping' air due to weak latch and poor suck-swallow-breathe coordination. Ankyloglossia is a known barrier to breastfeeding of infants (and their ability to thrive) because it often impairs their ability to successfully take in sufficient nutrition.
There are two types of Sleep Apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. Both are very much the same; however, there isn't any obstruction involved with Central Sleep Apnea. Central Sleep Apnea is brought about by problems with the respiratory control center of the brain. This control center is not sending the correct signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. It is thought that approximately 90 MILLION Americans are affected by Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB). Sleep Apnea, Snoring, and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) are all part of the larger SDB category. As many as 40 million Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea alone. Apneic events are characterized as choking, gasping, and long pauses in breathing. Sleep Apnea is typically thought to be a problem for 'older, overweight males', in contrast, UARS is considered to be the 'young, fit female' version. UARS is characterized by a narrowing of the airway that can cause disruptions to sleep, and is largely underdiagnosed. Sleep Apnea is no longer thought to only affect older overweight men; even children have been found to suffer from Sleep Apnea and Snoring. Studies have shown SDB to be linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, diabetes, stroke, sexual performance, and other chronic illnesses. Snoring, while common, is NEVER healthy. Snoring and night time mouth breathing may be the early warning signs of SDB. Although simple / primary Snoring is often considered to be benign, it is still a symptom of SDB. Sleep Apnea and other SDB can have the following serious health implications in children: ADD/ADHD, bed-wetting, sleep-walking, slowed growth, and hormonal and metabolic problems. Indications of possible SDB in children include mouth breathing, Snoring, enlarged tonsils, enlarged adenoids, and obesity.
Mouth Breathing is dysfunctional breathing; it is not considered normal or healthy. Mouth Breathing is a red flag for poor mid face muscle tone ('long-face syndrome' or 'adenoid face'), low resting tongue posture, and high narrow palate. Mouth Breathing causes the body to experience a mild panic response because it triggers the Sympathetic Nervous System, which is responsible for the 'fight or flight' reaction. Mouth breathing activates the upper chest, which results in shallow breathing, or 'over breathing'. This 'over breathing' leads to an ineffective exchange of oxygen to the muscles and organs, and simultaneous removal of carbon dioxide. The decrease in oxygen transferred to muscles and organs results in a cascade of symptoms, such as, poor sleep, low stamina and low energy. Children who mouth breath are much more likely to be sleep deprived, have a higher incidence of ADHD, and when grown, become adults with Sleep Apnea! Additional adverse effects of mouth breathing include dryness of the mouth and oropharynx, which leads to chronic inflammation of the tonsils and tongue, tonsil stones, gingivitis, increased decay, and bad breath.
Nasal breathing is one of the most beneficial things you can do to affect your health and longevity. Associated with the Parasympathetic Nervous System, nasal breathing activates the 'rest and digest' reaction. It also activates the diaphragm for deeper, more effective breathing. Nitric oxide (NO) is created in the nasal and sinus passages. This molecule (critical to oxygen exchange in the body) is released to the body when we inhale through the nose. NO has anti-inflammatory characteristics which help to reduce inflamed nasal passages, tonsils, adenoids and tissues of the oropharynx. High blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, IBS, Alzheimer's, dementia, erectile dysfunction, and bladder issues have all been associated with low levels of nitric oxide. Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal breathing process and negatively impacts NO levels in the body.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD) is complex and multicausal. Incorrect tongue posture leads to improper muscle function and use for chewing, speaking, and posture. This improper function can lead to compensation and spasm in the muscles of mastication and other orofacial muscles. A displacement of the Joint disc and narrowing of the upper arch of teeth is often observed with incorrect tongue posture. When the tongue does not rest properly in the 'roof' of the mouth, there is a lack of stability of the TMJ. A forward head posture (commonly exhibited by patients with poor resting tongue posture) can often be a result of a narrow airway; this posture is the body's subconscious attempt to breathe better. The forward head posture puts a greater strain on the muscles of the neck (which become fatigued), and contributes to more pain of the head, neck, shoulder and back. It has been found that patients with TMJ, when sleeping, will grind their teeth to shift the lower jaw forward in an attempt to open the airway. Myofunctional Therapy can be the key missing piece to traditional TMD treatment.