Oral-Facial Health & Posture (Part 2)

Oral-Facial Health & Posture (Part 2)

Jim Freda

 

Regarding the issues identified in part one, the goal is to survey the literature for other innovative strategies to test and to implement.

 

Dietary changes and awareness of oral-facial posture are the primary solution but there are a variety of exercises and other orthodontic interventions the authors suggest.

A gentle Buddha smile in addition to the practice of good oral posture has a powerful synergistic neurological effect on muscle tone, mood and structural balance.

The authors suggest a number of individual, family, and cultural interventions, including:

  • An institutional shift to a form of “forwardontics” that focuses on early intervention rather than the conventional focus on symptom relief once the adult teeth are already established. At this point, developmentally speaking, it is really too late to make any major changes.

 

  • Breastfeeding and baby-led weaning, meaning weaning into solid foods rather than pureed baby foods

 

  • Chewing and good oral posture practiced in a family meal setting that includes both eating and talking.
    Nose breathing and the Buteyko technique

 

  • Oral posture exercises including a program of simple exercises called GOPex developed by dentist Simon Wong.

 

  • Night breathing aids like the CPAP and “airway- centered orthodontics for adults.

 

Postural considerations for the head and face include the importance of a gentle “buddha smile” for optimal resting muscle tone. The gentle smile helps to correct a slack jaw and atrophy of the anterior cervical and facial muscles. This small adjustment, for example, signals the hyoid bone in the neck to release tension in the shoulders. This occurs through a release of the omohyoid muscle that connects the scapula to the hyoid bone.

This structure resembles the braking function of the reins attached to the bit in the horse’s mouth, where releasing the pull on the reins allows the horse to move more freely. Postural changes produce a mood effect in addition to more adaptive structural responses and this is a good example of that (Wikipedia).

A postural approach must view the body from the inside- out rather than the outside-in and it must understand the complex structural relationships involved in postural function. The postural system is the deepest system of muscles, which are closest to the bone and joints. This location is ideal for efficient stabilization but requires additional effort in the form of a sort of meditational focus, when working with them subjectively. In contrast, the more familiar dynamic system involves muscles that are larger, more superficial, are much easier to feel and control. These are muscles, like the deltoid and quadriceps, which often cross multiple joints, have longer ranges of movement, and generate a great deal of power.

The postural system is largely automatic but can be accessed through more meditative approaches (like chi-gong, yoga, and Feldenkrais) involving slow, intentional micro- movements for maximum awareness. Larger, faster dynamic movements that activate the superficial dynamic musculoskeletal system tend to pass over postural problems and reinforce the compensatory strategies characteristic of “bad posture” and chronic pain syndromes. Our postural system is where faulty movement patterns as well as trauma are stored, and interventions are understandably mindful, meditative, and involve the cultivation of the felt sense.

 

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