Here is weekly guest poster Paul Hess, from Primal Rejuvenation
FACIAL POSTURE SHAPE SPINAL POSTURE AND THE BRAIN
Health begins top down: The shape of your mouth affects your body shape and health.
The mouth determines breathing, brain and spine, which, in turn, can affect any and all health symptoms.
It starts with how the tongue as a muscle shapes the bones of the face through sucking, swallowing and where it rests, from infancy to adulthood.
Let’s call this facial posture that determines spinal posture and brain “posture.”
The first issue is the width of the upper palate or roof of the mouth that allows room:
Natural sucking on a breast requires forceful sucking: the tongue pushes up on the palate or maxilla, which has the affect of widening it to make room for the teeth without crowding, and to make room for a large enough air way to breathe. Palate size also affords the head to grow and make room for the brain to function properly.
The tongue widens the palate by pressing sideways from the inside of the teeth so the bones of each side are pushed out and away from each other, separating at the sutures or cracks between bones that are filled in with bone growth at the edges. The other aspect of widening is that the arch flattens so is wider and shorter in height. This also makes more room above in the nasal cavity to breathe through the nose, instead of the mouth, and space to breathe in the throat. You want to have a wide face with prominent check bones, not long and narrow.
With bottle feeding the milk comes out too easily fast and the tongue thrusts forward to prevent choking. This does not widen the palate but can push the front teeth forward so they don’t fit together when you bite down—that is just one pattern that can form.
Notice right now where the tip of your tongue is resting? It is supposed to be on the roof of your mouth behind the front upper teeth. If it is touching behind the bottom teeth, you learned a tongue thrusting pattern.
With proper tongue position one learns to swallow food by pressing the tongue up on the palate to support continued growth of the face and head. Proper tongue posture also keeps the sutures open and not jamming together because the cranium needs to flex slightly.
Bottle feeding is not the only factor that inhibits expansion of the palate. Chewing hard foods also applies upward pressure to flatten the palate or roof of the mouth.
Sinus congestion from food allergies, toxins, and infections leads to mouth breathing that require the tongue to drop down to breathe. This is slouching posture of the tongue and mouth that stop pushing up on the palate to maintain cranial posture: expanding the palate makes room for cranial bones behind it. The first contact between palate or maxilla being with the sphenoid that rests between the palate, top of the spine, and bottom of the cranium and brain. Thus the sphenoid is a key leverage point between major systems: spine, head, and mouth. Google for pictures.
So what can happen to health when the palate is underdeveloped?
Our first priority is to breathe. If the palate is small the airway can get blocked by the tongue.
The tongue is “too big” for the mouth because apparently the tongue must grow to normal size first so it can do the job of forcing the face to develop. The tongue should fit between your top teeth, not rest splayed out between the upper and lower.
The first compensation is a forward head posture to keep the airway open.
Stand up against a wall and put the back of your head against the wall.
Do you feel some tightness in the throat?
Can you talk normally with your head back?
If you are not comfortable you have a constrained airway to some degree from an underdeveloped palate or maxilla.
At night this constrained breathing can create snoring, or develop into obstructive sleep apnea. In both cases, the tongue falls back into the airway at night leading to numerous problems like waking up “choking” on your own tongue. Sleep dentistry offers a partial, immediate solution with bite splints that push the lower jaw forward to keep the tongue out of the airway. This is well worth it when it works, while it does not address the other half of the problem: expanding the palate to make the airway bigger, which would also allow better posture during the day.
There is also central sleep apnea, CSA, which is a less understood disruption of the nervous system. I believe CSA can be part of the unbalancing of the brain caused by constrained cranial bones. The most common label for this more general condition is “autonomic nervous system disregulation” or “sympathetic overdrive.” This is when the stress response is turned on subtly 24/7 and, or, overreacts to stress. The result is increased worrying, muscle tension and breath rate or hyperventilation. These stressful responses take time away from sleep, digestion, immunity, detoxification, and repair and growth of tissues. Over time this manifests as chronic fatigue or potentially any kind of health symptoms.
A small, constrained airway leads to a compensation pattern to breathe well when upright: forward head posture. Forward head posture triggers a chain reaction of bad posture all the way down the spine, including a sunken chest and forward hips. This can lead to back or shoulder pain. Unnoticed pinching of the nervous system also reduces signal flow to the organs. All chiropractors know that the spine affects the nervous system and the organs and therefore all kinds of health problems like digestion and circulation. When bone positioning pinches and constrains the nervous system and then organs, chiropractors call this a “subluxation.”
What few people know is that the biggest subluxation is the dental subluxation: how the mouth can constrain the cranium and entire brain and then the spine from top down. If this is the root cause that is not corrected, you may go back year after year to a chiropractor or other body worker for temporary relief at best. Where the pain shows up, the back, shoulder or hip, for example, can be a symptom of an invisible cause at the other end of the body. One must see the whole system to find it’s root causes, which may be top down.
Chiropractors sometimes forget that muscle moves bone, so just poking bones into place can be just as symptomatic treatment. Some chiropractors teach movements, especially neurological chiropractors who teach the muscles to move differently. It is now just beginning to be more widely understood that the tongue as the first muscle that shapes the whole body from the top down: from facial posture to spinal posture and breath.
Next week I describe more details of facial and dental development, and the 3 major issues to look at. This also covers causes of TMJ: tempro-mandibular joint pain.
Chris Bale's Blog
Founder & Head Coach.