Did you know that your tongue is one of the most important muscles in your body? Not only does it help you eat and speak, it is also very important in the function and development of your skull, neck and jaw.
The tongue is made up of 8 muscles, with each of these attaching to different parts of your skull, palate, neck and jaw. In our office, we always check the tongue and mouth of babies and children as correcting tongue function early is key. If a tongue does not function well, it can lead to a smaller jaw in comparison to the skull, an imbalance in the palate of the mouth, poor breastfeeding and problems during speech development. Please be sure your baby gets checked by one of us.
Even as an adult, symptoms such as jaw pain, snoring, headaches, and speech issues can all be related to tongue function. As an adult or teen, if you have had a recent dental surgery or braces, your chiropractor should be checking your tongue as it adapts to the changes in your mouth.
What are We Looking For?
- We look for a physical “tongue tie”, which is when the frenulum (the part of the tongue that attaches to the floor of your mouth) to see if it is too long and restricting the motion of the tongue. This is checked by dentists and pediatricians in most children too.
- We next look for a functional “tongue tie”, which means that the tongue is not restricted anatomically, but the 8 muscles that make up the tongue do not work synchronously together, or the frenulum is too tight. This can be treated in our office and with at-home stretching.
- The palate, or roof of your mouth is the next thing we will check. We are looking for symmetry and ridges, which tell us about how the tongue is moving. We treat this often in children especially, with adjustments and home exercises.
- Everything around it—your jaw, cervical spine, and front of your neck. These areas are all closely related to how your tongue works also.
Keep your Tongue in Tip Top Shape
- Try to stick your tongue straight out, then move it from side to side. You should be able to move your tongue symmetrically from side to side.
- Try to touch the tip of your tongue to the tip of your nose. Most people can’t do this (so you get big bragging rights if you can!), but even the motion of this is good practice for your tongue.
- This is a fun one for kids—after eating something messy (think ice cream all over your face), get your child to try to lick the food from around their lips with only their tongue. From a manners perspective, don’t let it become a habit, but it is great for their neurological development!
- DO YOU have issues with snoring, headaches or jaw pain? Does your baby or child have issues with breathing, latching, or eating? Ask us more about the tongue!