Do you most often breathe through your mouth? Do you suffer from sleep apnea? It’s possible that your tongue may be improperly positioned. The tongue is a strong muscle, and it has the power to shape the mouth over time, which means tongue position can seriously affect breathing.
During sleep, for example, your tongue relaxes and falls back. If it’s larger than usual, or set higher than normal, it can fully or partially block your airway. This means you’ll struggle to breathe when you’re asleep, diminishing the quality of your rest and causing a range of other oral health issues.
When we visit the dentist, most of us expect to talk about things related to teeth, like brushing, flossing, fillings, and braces. However, dentists specialize in everything going on inside your mouth, which includes your gums, cheeks, tongue, and much more. Holistic dentists take it a step further, because they view the mouth as being the gateway to your overall health and wellbeing.
When they are conducting an examination, they’ll ask questions about a range of lifestyle factors – including breathing and sleep – to ensure they can diagnose you correctly and recommend a course of treatment that will treat not just the symptoms of an issue, but the underlying cause as well.
Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas.
Is my tongue in the right position?
Everyone’s mouth is a different shape, but generally speaking, your tongue should lie flat against the roof of your mouth and the tip should touch the back of your front teeth. It should remain this way whether you’re awake or asleep, however, there are lots of factors that can cause this to change.
If your jaw isn’t correctly aligned, for example, or you have issues with crowding, there may not be enough room for your tongue to sit in the right spot. In addition to restricting breathing, this can also affect things like speaking, eating, and sleeping, which can be very detrimental to your wellbeing.
Can I retrain my tongue?
The good news is most people can quickly correct tongue positioning issues with exercises. Your dentists may prescribe these in order to retrain your tongue, and teach it how to sit properly. They may also refer you to a speech therapist, which is someone who specializes in oral skills.
If your tongue position is cause by retrognathia, a condition in which the lower jaw is pulled back, pushing the tongue backwards as well, your dentist may also prescribe a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is a very effective device that prevents the lower jaw from slipping back during sleep, which can help keep the tongue out of the way so your airways remain clear all night long.
Why do holistic dentists look at tongues?
Holistic dentistry is about considering all the different factors at play and working naturally with the body to find a solution that optimizes your overall health and wellbeing. Holistic dentists also favor non-invasive treatments, which help your body adjust and repair itself as naturally as possible.
No part of the mouth operates in isolation. Correcting your tongue positioning isn’t just about stopping noisy snoring! It’s about helping you breathe easier, which will maximize the restfulness of your sleep, increase the amount of oxygen you inhale with every breath, and increase your energy levels. This can have a flow-on effect of improving your diet, generating the energy to exercise more, boosting your mood, and improving your mental health. Every part of the human body is interlinked.
How can I get help with a tongue positioning issue?
If anything we’ve mentioned in this blog post sounds familiar – for example, if you wake up every morning with a super dry mouth because you’ve breathed through it all night, you feel tired all the time, or you’ve been told you snore like a freight train – it’s best to raise the topic with your dentist.
Your dentist will be able to conduct a thorough examination at your next check-up, discuss any difficulties you’re experiencing, and let you know if they spot anything out of the ordinary. They’ll talk you through any issues and work with you to create a customized treatment plan that takes your specific needs into account so you can get back to breathing easily at night.
Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact our friendly team today!