Why does the dentist send me to the speech therapist?

“You place your tongue incorrectly when swallowing” “you need orthodontics, but first we must assess the way you swallow” “your tongue makes your teeth move” ….

If a dentist sends you to a speech therapist in Barcelona because of the suspicion that your swallowing is affecting your teeth, then you will be interested to know what atypical swallowing is.

What is atypical swallowing?

Simply explained, the tongue pushes on the teeth when swallowing. The tongue is placed behind the teeth when it should be placed on the roof of the mouth. This continuous pressure on the teeth causes them to shift over time.

Characteristics of Atypical Swallowing

Speech-language pathologists observe that people with atypical swallowing usually have lips with little muscle tone, the tongue resting between the teeth, a tendency to breathe through the mouth and have the upper or lower jaw advanced or delayed.

These are the main characteristics that we can find:

Chewing with the teeth and not with the molars. This causes food remains and certain movements are made when swallowing (e.g. extending the neck backwards).
Lack of lip seal, i.e. there is a difficulty in closing the lips when chewing, swallowing and at rest.
Mouth breathing. Proper breathing is nasal breathing, so in mouth breathing the mouth is kept ajar and the tongue is decompensated by being in a low and forward position.

Consequences of atypical swallowing

The most obvious consequence of atypical swallowing is at the esthetic level. It is common to find cases in which atypical swallowing is detected by the orthodontist when starting corrective treatment.

The esthetic problems derived from atypical swallowing are shown in the upper and lower teeth that will be advanced.

It is also known to cause difficulties in the articulation of sounds, such as phonemes /s/, /r/ or /rr/.
As well as we find problems in voice alteration, due to the fact that the bad opening of the mouth will cause these cases to occur.

Logopedic treatment for atypical swallowing

As a general rule, these are not usually long and expensive treatments. With a continuous attendance during the sessions marked by the speech therapist and doing the recommended work at home, the duration can be between 1 and 4 months.

The treatment consists of:

  • Teaching the tongue the correct place to rest when swallowing.
  • To sufficiently tone the lips, tongue and sometimes the jaw.
  • Make this new swallowing process automatic.

As already mentioned, it is a simple treatment, but it requires that we visit a professional to be able to carry out the process.