When you think about your child’s milestones, you probably think about when they started walking and talking, when they crawled, or even when they were able to feed themselves for the first time.
Do you think about when their jaw developed or if their tongue is in the right position? How about if they’re breathing correctly (through their nose)?
But you should think about these three things, as they play a significant role in your child’s development and overall health. Proper tongue poster, breathing and jaw development are known as The Big Three.
The tongue is one of the most important muscles in our body. It helps us breathe, swallow, speak and chew food.
If it’s too high up in the mouth, it can cause problems with speech, swallowing and chewing. If it’s too low down in the mouth, it could cause an airway obstruction.
So let’s look at some common tongue postures:
When we have a relaxed tongue, it sits just below the roof of the mouth. This is called a resting tongue or neutral tongue.
When we talk, our tongues are positioned on either side of our upper teeth. This allows air to flow through our mouth and into our lungs.
If your tongue is too far forward, it can cause problems with swallowing. If it’s too far back, it can cause problems speaking and breathing. As a result, mouth breathing and sleep breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea occur.
Improper tongue posture can also result in other issues such as tooth decay and speech disorders.
Signs of Improper Tongue Posture
Signs of improper tongue posture include:
Mouth Breathing. Improper tongue posture can cause mouth breathing by causing the tongue to be pushed up against the roof of the mouth.
Tooth Decay. Poor oral hygiene can lead to cavities and gum disease. These conditions can affect the gums and bones around the teeth.
Speech Disorders. A common sign of improper tongue posture is that children have difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. For example, they may say “buh” instead of “puh.”
Drooling. Children who drool often do so because they have an overactive gag reflex due to poor tongue posture. This reflex causes saliva to come out of their mouths.
Poor Eating Habits. Children with poor tongue posture often eat poorly because of issues with their tongue placement.
Proper breathing is an important part of overall health.
What is proper breathing?
Proper breathing is nasal breathing. Nasal breathing has big benefits, including helping keep your immune system strong and keeping your body healthy.
Nasal breathing is also good for your brain because it increases oxygen levels in your blood. This means that your brain gets more oxygen and stays healthier.
Signs of Mouth Breathing
Your child may be mouth breathing and not even realize it! Here are some signs it might be happening:
Bad Breath. You might notice bad breath from your child if they don’t breathe properly.
Sore Throat. Your child could develop sore throats if they are consistently breathing through their mouth.
Headaches. If your child breathes improperly, they could get headaches.
Hoarse Voice. If your child doesn’t breathe properly, they could have a hoarse voice.
Snoring. If your child snores, it could mean that they aren’t breathing properly.
The jaw is made up of many different parts. One of those parts is the mandible. The mandible is responsible for chewing and moving food down the esophagus.
Our jaws develop from birth until around age 7. If the jaw does not develop properly, there can be consequences for overall health, dental health and behavioral health.
Jaw development is the process by which the bones of the face grow together. During this growth period, the muscles and ligaments surrounding the jawbone begin to form.
In some cases, the jaw may not fully close. In others, the jaw may be overgrown. Either way, this can lead to problems like temporomandibular joint disorder, headaches, ear infections, tooth decay and speech disorders, among many others.
Signs of Poor Jaw Development
Not sure if your child’s jaw is developing correctly? Check for these signs:
Overgrowth. When the jawbone grows too much, it pushes on other structures in the head. This can cause pain or discomfort.
Underdevelopment. When the jawbone fails to develop correctly, it can result in underdeveloped facial features and craniofacial structure issues.
Tooth Crowding. Crowded teeth are one of the most common signs of poor jaw development.
Recessed/Retracted Chin. A receded chin occurs when the lower jawbone protrudes forward. It’s usually caused by a lack of space between the upper and lower jawbones.
Poor Posture. Poor posture is another sign of poor jaw development. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as weak neck muscles, a short torso or a large head.