Here is the awesome Paul Hess from Primal Rejuvenation with his weekly guest post
Last week introduced the idea that the tongue determines facial posture, and facial posture shapes spinal posture, the brain, and breath. The actions of the tongue illustrate that muscle moves bone, and that bone provides a container that supports or constrains the brain and nervous system. All of this can affect any and all aspects of health. That’s a lot of ideas and details so please read last week’s article on facial posture if you want to more fully understand this article.
Here we look more at the mechanical details and what you actually see.
Slouching posture of the face often looks like some of these:
Forward head position versus the correct position of ears over the shoulders
Long narrow face
Small cheek bones
Crowded, crooked teeth.
Open mouth, breathing through the mouth
Tongue that is wider than the upper palate, doesn’t fit between the teeth.
Tongue on the bottom of the mouth with tip against the lower teeth when resting and swallowing
Inset chin with overbite
Upper teeth narrow or inside the row below it—cross bite
Front teeth that don’t come together: open bite.
These facial features can be explained in terms of three things:
Small upper palate or maxilla.
Lower tongue position and movement—posture
It all begins with the tongue.
Lower position of tongue, tip rested on front lower teeth.
The tongue is supposed to be on the roof of the mouth when resting and swallowing, which expands the palate by, in effect, pushing on the sides of the teeth outward. This was ideally learned as a child through breast feeding and can still be learned as an adult. Adult palatal expansion utilizes tongue, fingers and orthodontic palate expanders. It can open the sutures (natural breaks between the bones) and relax your breath and body noticeably. Palatal expansion is great to help meditation at the very least that can be felt immediately as a relaxing sensation in your breath and down to your toes.
You can also stick your tongue out and notice that it looks wider than your upper teeth, or doesn’t fit inside the upper teeth, but hangs out over the bottom of the upper teeth and between the upper and lower teeth.
Lower tongue posture is also the result of sinus congestion that requires breathing through the mouth as an alternative. This is less healthy since the nose is a filter and makes nitric oxide to help with circulation and getting oxygen into the tissues. Sinus congestion can result from allergies, toxins, infections, etc.
Smaller Upper Palate or Maxilla
This is the roof of the mouth that the tongue shapes developmentally as you grow.
Small means narrow and set back. A palate that is too small is the cause of crooked teeth. Underdevelopment is also indicated by shallow check bones and longer face. If it is narrow the arch is deeper or higher and pushes into the nasal cavity above it. As the tongue or orthodontic expanders push out, this arch flattens. It also can get wider by separating the suture breaks between the bones, between the left and right bone plates, which is then filled in with bone along the edge to maintain the narrowness of the suture.
The small palate also means a smaller airway that leads to a forward head posture in order to breathe without constraint. This can lead to snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, bad posture, and other imbalances
Short molars relative to the front teeth require that the lower jaw be pulled back in order to chew. This is an overbite. This puts pressure in the jaw joint, the temporomandibular joint, TMJ, which can cause pain.
These teeth can be short due to malnutrition and the health problems associated with other malformations discussed here. Molars can also shorten through grinding teeth or bruxism. The surface wears down while the tooth can be pushed further into the bone.
Another possible consequence is that short molars lead the cranium and spine to collapse. It is not easy to visualize this but experiences with placing bite splints have lead to improvement of posture, scoliosis, pain and many other health symptoms like digestion, often with dramatic improvement when nothing else works. Splints can provide immediate relief. Splints are made from hard plastics.
A more permanent solution is to lengthen or extrude molars. If the teeth are pulled up with braces and rubber bands, it is not the size of the teeth that change but the build-up of bone underneath the teeth on the jaw.
Another option is to place crowns on molars for a permanent solution.
With splints, extrusion, or crowns, the morals become longer so the jaw can come forward while still being able to chew. This relieves pain and pressure on the temporomandibular joint.
“Long molars” are also possible as characterized in an open bite in front: the incisors don’t meet. It’s actually not a case of long molars but a high, narrow palate arch, which might be able to be widened and flattened to shorten the vertical height and bring the incisors together.
Often orthodontists will straighten the teeth with braces and as a result jam the sutures of palate and bones behind the palate, beginning with the sphenoid bone. The position of bones needs to flex slightly for optimum function of the brain and spine.
Orthodontists may also extract teeth so it is easier to straighten the remaining teeth, but this can be a disaster as the roles of the teeth in supporting the head collapse and the palate narrows further with repercussions down the spine.
Treating the cause of the problem includes expanding the palate to make room for the teeth. This can be done with mechanical expanders, as many orthodontists do. It is more rare to provide training for the tongue to assist in expansion and hold the gains. Proper tongue posture is on the roof of the mouth when swallowing and resting to reinforce nose breathing.
There is a growing field of orthopedic orthodontics that looks at how the bite of the teeth affects the whole body, with numerous schools that use different terms.
Orthodontics that realize how the bite affects the whole body often work with other physical therapists to adjust the adaptive postures that need to shift to support the new jaw position and facial shape. Cranial sacral therapy is a well known modality that is often called upon to help move the cranial bones subtly in relation to the sacrum in the hip area since both ends are tied together through the spine. Specifically, there is movement of the cerebral spinal fluid in a rhythm, and it is important of the sutures of bones of the palate and head to be open to enable this flow. Another aspect of this is the membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord called the “dura.” Strain anywhere on the dura can create tension from one end to the other so it is important to see the whole system. Releasing tension in the hip area may also reduce tension in the cranium to support orthodontic expansion.
The new orthodontics is about orthopedics and chiropractics of the whole body, shaping the face, and using muscles for self maintenance. There are a variety of do-it-yourself techniques. Many patients are sharing on the web information to find orthodontists with a more complete understanding.
Until next week,
Chris Bale's Blog
Founder & Head Coach.