Tongue tie and poor tongue posture is linked to sleep apnea


It may be hard to believe but the tongue directly causes all obstructive airway problems including sleep apnea. During deep sleep, the tongue relaxes and falls back into the airway where it blocks airflow. It is that simple, but what causes the tongue to obstruct the airway is not so easy to understand.

The cure for sleep apnea in kids and adults is to create the conditions where the tongue keeps proper posture in the mouth during sleep. If you can keep your tongue in your mouth while you sleep, you will not have obstructive sleep apnea. It is that simple in concept, but creating the conditions to keep the tongue in the mouth during deep sleep can be difficult. Below we offer solutions to cure sleep apnea and mouth breathing by training the tongue and expanding the palate.

We have expanders for kids and palatal expanders for adults.


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How to keep the tongue in your mouth


The tongue is supposed to suction up into the roof of the mouth like a suction cup. Literally. When the tongue maintains proper posture, the “suction” keeps the tongue in the mouth during deep sleep and prevents it from falling back into the throat. If the tongue stays on the palate, it will be impossible to mouth breathing. Proper tongue posture is the cure to mouth breathing, airway resistance and obstructive sleep apnea.


Ideal tongue posture and airway performance


Assuming the tongue is suctioned up onto the palate airflow cannot be passed through the mouth. Airflow during breathing is supposed to be taken uphill and into the nose. As the air moves through the nasal passages, it proceeds down hill and inflates the airway as it proceeds into the lungs. Because nasal breathing creates positive pressure, it helps the airway not to collapse during sleep. Mouth breathing, has is sucky negative pressure as it suctions the tongue and tonsils back into the throat and increases the chance of airway collapse.


Tongue posture in the palate decreases airway collapse


The tongue connects to the lower jaw and the hyoid bone in the middle of the throat. When the tongue postures on the palate (as it should) it tightens the muscles in the throat and makes the airway much less likely to collapse. Proper palatal tongue posture ensures nasal breathing and prevents leakage of air out of the mouth.


Why doesn’t the tongue stay in the palate?


The two biggest reasons the tongue does not stay in the palate:

  1. Inadequate room in the palate. If the tongue is wider and deeper than the palate, it will not fit into the palate without being squished. The tongue is like a suction cup. It needs to lie flat onto the palate to achieve suction. The suction prevents the tongue from falling back when the muscle relaxes.
  2. Tongue tie keeps the tongue in the floor of the mouth and resists elevating into the palate. Myofunctional therapy and tongue exercises can improve the range of motion of the tongue and help it lift into the palate. But a tongue tie release will be necessary to keep the tongue in the palate at rest.


Palatal Expansion increases the size of the palate


Palatal expanders are available for adults and kids. Popular kids expanders include the ALF device and she Schwarz appliance. Adult expanders are less common and more specialized. The Vivos DNA appliance and Homeoblock are examples of expanders for adults.


Tongue tie release procedures


Tongue tie release procedures can make it much easier to maintain proper tongue posture in the palate. Myofunctional therapy and proper strengthening of the tongue are critical to achieving normal tongue function. It is never advisable to release the tongue before the proper therapy has been done. If the tie is cut without therapy, it can reattach and be even tighter than before. Do yourself a favor and find a good myofunctional therapist.

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