Chewing & Swallowing

We consume nutrients for our body’s requirements in differing forms and ways as we grow and develop.  To begin with we solely rely on our parents to be fed (breast fed ideally) and then weaned appropriately onto solid foods.  From there our solid diets are generally decided upon but as we get older we make our own decisions as to the foods and drinks we consume.  The way we handle the foods presented to us at each stage in life can predispose us to our functional patterns of chewing and swallowing.  It is these patterns in addition to the resting posture of the facial complex which can lead to and precipitate dysfunctional patterns.  . 

Through each stage of development and life the same structures are involved in chewing and swallowing. At the start of the journey our senses are involved then our lips, facial and chewing muscles, moving through the mouth to the oropharynx other tissues involved are the cheeks, tongue,  floor of the mouth soft palate and tonsils and then inferiorly through the hypopharynx, into the oesophageal opening.  The surrounding bones as well as the nerve supply to these structures will also play a role in the functional patterns of the chewing and swallowing processes. Balance within the whole system is important to guide good growth and development and enable a good stable function of the facial complex. In addition to this the mechanical movement ensures the waste products are efficiently removed from the surrounding tissues.  This will help reduce dental disease such as gum disease and tooth decay and help drain lymphatic's in the surrounding tissues

The swallow action involving saliva, liquids and food differs. Clinicans at MyoDynamics have an understanding of normal chewing and swallow patterns and can detect deviations, tailoring therapy to an individual’s needs.

Behaviours which indicate a poor chewing and swallow pattern for food can be modified with appropriate guidance, these includes;

  • The tongue reaching out for the food at it approaches the mouth.
  • Large bite of food is taken.
  • Lips are constantly or intermittently parted during chewing.
  • Tongue presses against the front teeth or protrudes between upper and lower teeth.
  • Chewing maybe very brief or for a prolonged period.
  • With one mouthful of food swallowing can occur several times.
  • Immediately prior to, and during, swallowing, the lips may protrude and/or compress noticeably
  • After swallowing the individual may clear up food which has remained and swallow again.
  • The tongue may rest on the teeth or be seen to leave the anterior teeth, as the lips part after the swallow.
  • Drinking during mealtimes