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Breathing and Chewing Basics

The orofacial muscles, namely the muscles of the mouth, jaw, neck and face, are involved in some of the most basic and important activities of our day to day lives. This includes, among other things, breathing, chewing and speech.

The mechanisms involved in these activities seem second-nature to most of us. However, in reality the proper functioning of these processes requires a number of different elements to work in harmony. The act of swallowing, in particular, depends on the correct interaction between the muscles of the face, tongue and throat. It may not seem so, but there is a lot going on in our mouths each of the approximately 2000 times per day we swallow.

Many children are messy eaters, chewing on one side of their jaw and with their mouth open with food around their mouths. It does not only look bad but can affect the way their face and jaw develops.

Children often mouth breathe. Mouth breathers will have an open mouth posture (lips parted), forward head and shoulder posture. Poor posture associated with an open mouth is becoming epidemic in our society. Mouth breathing affects children’s growth and development, causing crocked teeth and crowded mouths.

For a number of reasons, many young children do not develop the correct motor function patterns when it comes to breathing and chewing. A very common myofunctional disorder in children is known as “tongue thrust”, which occurs when a child pushes the tongue against or between the teeth when swallowing and at rest. These issues contribute to poor growth and development of the orofacial muscles and can often lead to more serious issues later in life such as crowded mouths and crocked teeth. For that reason, it is paramount to address the problem at an early stage and ensure optimal development and functionality is encouraged.

Treatment

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy addresses these issues by training a child’s facial and tongue muscles and to function in the optimal way. Through non-invasive, exercise-based techniques, children gradually learn to bite, swallow, chew and breathe with the correct motor patterns, allowing the orofacial muscles to develop properly and reducing the future need for extensive dental treatment.

Rochelle at Orofacial Myology Health has worked with a number of children experiencing breathing and chewing issues as well as tongue thrust. Make an appointment to discuss the issues and a treatment program for your child.