Your head bone’s connected to your neck bone; your neck bone’s connected to your backbone; your backbone’s connected to your leg bone. You’ve probably heard this little jingle before, but have you ever heard that your tongue is connected to your toes?
Your body is an intricate network of bones, organs, joints and tissues, and every part is connected in some way. Your tongue is actually connected to your toes through an intricate network of connective tissue known as fascia.
The fascia is a very thin band of connective tissue that covers our muscles, offers protection to these structures, and helps to keep nerves and blood vessels in place.
Your body is also designed to work perfectly when everything is in its proper place, like a well-oiled machine. But, like with any machine, if one part is out of place, there can be severe consequences.
If you pull a muscle in your leg, you may feel it in your back or foot. Similarly, when your tongue is out of its intended place, everything below it, all the way down to your toes, can be affected.
The Tongue-to-Toe Connection
Does your tongue have a proper place, though? Turns out, yes. There is such a thing as proper tongue posture.
Known commonly was oral rest posture, the ideal position for your tongue is against the roof of your mouth. Your tongue should also not touch the back of your upper front teeth, and your teeth should be slightly apart.
Your lips should close over your teeth without stretching or straining, too.
Check your oral rest posture now: Is what we described how your mouth is behaving?
If your tongue is not resting correctly in your mouth due to a jaw issue or tongue-tie, things can get out of alignment in your mouth and the rest of your body.
A tongue-tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a condition that develops in babies in utero and is present at birth. Tongue-ties restrict the movement of the tongue and limit its range of motion in the mouth.
Tongue-ties can negatively impact a baby’s ability to eat and swallow. Other consequences of a tongue-tie for infants include:
- Difficulty breastfeeding, often resulting in early termination of breastfeeding
- Negative impacts on milk supply
- Diagnosis of failure to thrive
- Poor sleep
- Difficulty adjusting to solid foods
Children with tongue-ties also experience issues such as:
- Difficulty eating solid foods
- Gagging or choking
- Unwillingness to try new foods; only eating certain foods
- Speech delay or speech issues like deterioration in speech or difficulty articulating
- Behavior problems, including ADD/ADHD, ODD, depression and mood swings
- Dental issues such as crowded teeth
- Behaviors to compensate for tongue-tie that may be hard to break
And, if these issues remain untreated into adulthood, other issues can develop. These issues can directly impact how you feel about yourself, how you relate or interact with others, and your dental and overall health.
Adults with tongue-ties frequently experience issues including:
- The inability to open the mouth and restricted tongue movement that widely affects speech and eating habits
- Speech impediments; stress over having to focus on speaking properly
- An inability to speak clearly
- Noisy jaw joints (creaking, clicking, grating or popping of the jaw)
- Pain in the jaws at rest or when in use
- Jaw development issues
- Poor oral health, including tooth decay and gingivitis
- Stress or sensitivity about appearance
Tongue-ties can also affect your posture. If there is a tongue-tie present, the head tends to be tilted low and forward.
Forward head posture related to tongue-tie can also stress the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) and the trapezius muscle, as well as muscles in the back and neck, and contribute to:
- Jaw conditions, such as TMD
- Neck and back pain
- Pain in the shoulder
Tongue-ties can also affect your breathing (causing mouth breathing), the stability of your pelvic floor and even how you walk.
If you notice these effects in yourself or your child, it is time to talk about treating that tongue-tie. While you may think it’s relatively harmless, the fact is that this condition can affect the entire body and overall health.
At Miami Designer Smiles, we can treat tongue-ties and complications using laser surgery to release restricted tissue. Many individuals treated for their tongue-tie find immediate relief from their symptoms, including improved posture.
We also offer patients myofunctional therapy and speech therapy to retrain their tongue and orofacial muscles after their tongue-tie is treated. Learn more about our service here.