Comprehensive and Holistic Breathing and
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
We focus on restoring the basic functions of life such as breathing, resting, sleeping, chewing, and swallowing. Most people don't think about the way they breathe, rest their mouth, sleep, chew, and swallow, but when these everyday functions of life are not correctly working a host of problems can occur.
Proper function of the orofacial muscles includes nasal breathing, tongue resting passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth, lips passively sealed, teeth slightly apart, chewing on both sides of the mouth with lips sealed and swallowing without the tongue pressing on the teeth (tongue thrust).
When any one of these muscle patterns is dysfunctional it can create symptoms such as nasal congestion, dry mouth, dry lips, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, environmental and seasonal allergies, asthma, frequent colds, ear aches, trouble clearing the ears, clenching and grinding of the teeth, TMD, ringing in the ears, sleep disordered breathing, snoring, sleep apnea, headaches, facial pain, head and neck tension, poor circulation, misaligned teeth and jaws, anterior open bite, high narrow palate, crowded teeth, drooling, gas and bloating, acid reflux, poor digestion and more.
We prescribe research based exercises that focus on natural remedies to open the nasal and upper airway, stimulate reflexive nasal breathing, achieve proper and balanced function of the muscles of the head and neck in both static (resting) and dynamic (active) function. With the proper function of breathing, resting, sleeping, talking, chewing and swallowing comes relief and results that are life changing.
Breathing is behavior. Breathing, like other behaviors, is learned over time. Good breathing behavior keeps the nose and sinuses functioning and regulates the chemical axis of the body, regulating the pH which ensures electrolyte balance and proper oxygenation of the body.
At Oral Posture we focus on re-educating the breathing to the nose and stimulating the reflex to breathe by working to achieve parasympathetic tone.
Something we say daily is our nose is our breather!
Our nose filters the air, warms the air, humidifies the air and produces Nitric Oxide which is an important gas that acts as a vasodilator and anti-inflammatory. When we nasal breathe we are breathing less which retains more CO2 - retaining more CO2 allows our brain and organs to be oxygenated at a higher level. Our mouth does none of this important breathing function. When mouth breathing exists it causes inflammation in the ears, nose and throat which can cause frequent congestion, allergy symptoms, chronic sinus infections, recurring ear infections, difficulty clearing the ears, swimmers ear, frequent colds and sore throats. Restoring nasal breathing function allows for healing and puts a stop to these recurring health problems.
Breathing therapy and Orofacial myofunctional therapy go hand in hand. When our mouth is resting in the correct oral posture, the nose is the breather. When the mouth is resting incorrectly, the mouth is the breather.
Our capnography sessions consist of wearing a nasal canula to measure the bodies CO2 levels. We work with capnography to establish healthy CO2 levels (eucapnia). Hypocapnia is when we have low CO2 levels which affects the chemical axis of the body. Hypocapnia can also be called over-breathing which causes a shift in our acid-base balance which has negative effects on our body’s pH level. Through a series of exercises and biofeedback with capnography we establish a healthy breathing behavior and healthy CO2 levels.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Oro = Mouth
Facial = Face
Myo = Muscles
Functional = Function
We work on the muscles of the mouth, face, head, and neck to function correctly. Through a series of exercises, we establish correct function within resting of the face (static function) and within chewing and swallowing (dynamic function).
Static Function: The tongue should be passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth at rest with the teeth slightly apart and the lips passively sealed.
The tongue passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth is the foundation for breathing, resting, swallowing and speech.
When the tongue is in the correct position at rest you cannot mouth breathe - the tongue suction up provides for continuous nasal breathing. When the tongue is resting correctly in the mouth it helps widen and grow the upper arch and helps keep the airway open.
When the tongue is in the correct position at rest it supports and stabilizes the lower jaw which allows the compensatory muscles of the face to relax which results in reduced clenching/grinding, TMD and facial pain.
When the tongue is in the correct position at rest it is ready to swallow. In a healthy swallow the tip and middle of the tongue press into the roof of the mouth and the back of the tongue dumps the saliva/liquid and food back.
The tongue should start, and finish suctioned to the roof of the mouth during speech. When we start to talk the tongue comes off the roof of the mouth to talk and when we are finished talking the tongue returns suctioned up with the lips closed.
Dynamic Function: Chewing and Swallowing are important functions of the facial muscles.
Chewing on the back teeth helps to grow and develop the upper and lower bones/arches. Symmetrical chewing with the lips sealed helps to develop the facial muscles symmetrically which results in facial symmetry. Chewing is the first stage of digestion; it alerts the brain to prepare the stomach to receive food and it helps break down the food before it is swallowed. We know through epigenetic studies that our jaws are getting smaller and smaller with each generation; we know that this is linked to a lack of chewing at the correct developmental stages.
When we swallow the tip and middle of the tongue should press firmly into the roof of the mouth and the back of the tongue should dump the saliva/liquid/food back - the tongue pumping into the roof of the mouth stimulates the Vagus nerve and parasympathetic tone which balances and restores nervous system function. Correct swallowing prevents air swallowing (aerophagia) which can cause gas, bloating, and stomach discomfort.
When we look at the proper function of the muscles of the face, head and neck we are looking at the capability of the muscles to be able to achieve proper function. When there are frenum restrictions present in the mouth (lip ties, tongue tie, buccal ties) they limit the muscles ability to function properly.
The tongue should be passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth at rest. If a tongue tie is anchoring the tongue to the floor of the mouth then the tongue can’t function the way that it should in static function (resting).
The tongue needs sufficient range of motion to function correctly within chewing, swallowing and within speech. If the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth then the tongue can’t function the way that it should in dynamic function (chewing, swallowing, speech).
The tongue is a group of sixteen muscles. It provides us the ability to breathe correctly, sleep correctly, swallow saliva correctly, eat correctly, drink correctly and speak correctly. When this group of sixteen muscles is stuck by being tied to the floor of the mouth, not only do we need to eliminate the restriction, we need to re-educate the muscles on how to do all of these basic functions.
At Oral Posture we work with the muscles before and after the tongue tie release to facilitate a functional release - we help the tongue heal correctly and understand how to function after the release.
We collaborate with the doctor providing the release for optimal results. For our local patients, we offer pre and post op biostimulation laser therapy to release muscular and fascial restrictions which helps sooth the muscles post operatively as well as increases the range of motion of the tongue for more successful results.
Biostimulation Laser Therapy
NdYag biostimulation laser therapy is a non-invasive light therapy that penetrates the tissue to release muscular and fascial restrictions. This therapy releases tension in the head and neck which has positive effects for post frenectomy as well as patients that suffer from head and neck tension/clenching and grinding/TMD.
Right Sleep Protocol - Optimizing Vitamin D and B12
We work with our patients through Dr. Stasha Gominak’s right sleep program to achieve healthy vitamin D and B12 levels. There are vitamin D receptors in our brain stem where our sleep switches are that take us in and out of the phases of sleep. When our vitamin D is too low or too high this can negatively affect our sleep.
Through a specific protocol we help optimize our patient’s vitamin D and B12 levels to promote healthy gut and brain function which translates to improved sleep and healing.
Craniofacial Growth and Development
The upper and lower jaws are developed by the muscles of the face.
FORM FOLLOWS FUNCTION.
The tongue suctioned to the roof of the mouth acts as an internal expander/retainer of the palate (roof of the mouth) and upper arch. The lips sealed acts as an external retainer of the upper and lower arches (upper and lower teeth and associated bone). Chewing at the molars (the back teeth) is the growth factor - proper chewing helps the upper and lower arches grow. Proper function of the muscles of the face promotes the proper growth of the jaws and their associated teeth.
The proper function of the tongue is directly related to the function of the lips. If the tongue is resting low there is a high likelihood that the lips will rest apart which is open mouth posture and mouth breathing.
If we were to strip all the skull of its soft tissue and we just looked at the bones, the mandible which is the lower jaw would fall to the ground - the lower jaw isn’t connected to the rest of the skull via bones. The sixteen muscles of the tongue are connected to the mandible (the lower jawbone). The tongue in a healthy resting posture should be suctioned to the roof of the mouth at rest which gently lifts the lower jaw up making it feel connected to the rest of the skull. When the tongue is suctioned up it lifts the mandible up which allows the lips to seal passively. The tongue passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth supports the mandible which allows for healthy oral rest posture (tongue suctioned up, teeth apart, lips sealed) and promotes nasal breathing.
In contrast, when the tongue is resting low, the lips tend to rest apart, which causes mouth breathing and this improper muscle balance creates a bony shift. Low tongue posture and open mouth posture creates a high narrow palate and lack of forward growth of the arches which can cause dental crowding and malocclusion.
Our upper airway is a functional SPACE between anatomy. It is not a hose or a tube, it’s just a space. The anatomy that defines that space is the upper and lower jaw and the associated muscles/soft tissue. The airway starts in the nose, passes through the sinuses, and then goes just behind the upper and lower jaw. When the upper and lower jaw don’t grow properly the upper airway becomes smaller and airway obstruction is more likely.
The sixteen muscles of the tongue are connected to the lower jaw and should be passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth at rest. When the tongue is resting low in the mouth the back of the tongue is in the airway, when the tongue is resting suctioned to the roof of the mouth it brings the tongue forward out of the airway. When the tongue is suctioned up, it lifts the lower jaw up which allows the lips to seal and promotes proper breathing through the nose.
Tonsils and Adenoids
The tonsils and adenoids are lymphatic tissue. Our lymphatic tissue is a part of our immune system which helps protect us from bacteria, viruses, and foreign entities. Our lymphatic system moves by a series of muscular squishes/movements. The tongue is a large group of powerful muscles that should squish the tonsils and adenoids every time we swallow which is approximately 1000 times a day.
When the tongue is resting low in the mouth the tongue moves down and forward (tongue thrust) instead of up and back which doesn’t provide the correct muscle function to drain the tonsils and adenoids.
When the tongue is resting low in the mouth the lips tend to rest apart which causes open mouth posture and mouth breathing. Our mouth is not meant to breathe, it doesn’t provide the filtration and Nitric Oxide that the nose provides. Breathing unfiltered air through the mouth can result in enlarged tonsils and adenoids. The combination of unfiltered air hitting the tonsils and adenoids and the lack of muscular squish to help them drain can cause chronically enlarged tonsils and adenoids which can cause airway obstruction.
At Oral Posture we have a specific nasal regimen, breathing protocol and muscular workout that creates optimal function to allow the tonsils and adenoids to heal. We work on optimal function prior to recommending removal of tonsils and adenoids.
Oftentimes, patients come in and have already had their tonsils and or adenoids removed, these patients come in with the same symptoms that they had prior to getting their lymphatic tissue removed. Removing the tonsils and adenoids isn’t the answer to restoring function within the head and neck. These patients are still mouth breathing, have low tongue posture, open mouth posture and sleep symptoms.
Breathing during sleep should be calm and quiet where you cannot hear it or see it. You should walk into a room where someone is sleeping and not even know that they are in there. When there is audible breathing or snoring this is a sign that something is wrong with the breathing during sleep which can be or can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
Signs of sleep disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea are as follows:
-open mouth posture
-sleeping with neck extended or arms above the head
-tossing and turning
-grinding and clenching teeth
-waking up through the night
During sleep the tongue should stay passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth which keeps the lips sealed and promotes nasal breathing through the night. When the tongue is resting low in the mouth the lips tend to part causing mouth breathing and the tongue falls back into the airway causing obstruction.
Breathing therapy and Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy provides sensory cortex stabilization. We know that the sensory cortex of our brain provides more space for sensory input for four parts of our body than any other part and two of those parts are the tongue and the lips. Once we fulfill this portion of the sensory cortex by establishing nasal breathing and healthy oral rest posture we provide a habit elimination program that is highly successful. Habits that are successfully eliminated are as follows:
-hair pulling (trichotillomania)
TMD and Facial Pain
The correct orofacial balance of the muscles includes the tongue passively suctioned to the roof of the mouth at rest, the lips passively sealed, the teeth slightly apart, symmetrical chewing on both sides of the mouth with the lips sealed and swallowing without accessory muscle involvement. This is the correct and healthy balance of the muscles of the face, head and neck. When any one of these functions is incorrect TMD, facial pain, head and neck tension can be present.