Is It The Tongue, The Jaw, Or The Neck? It May Be All Three.

The ability of a baby to properly latch and feed is a complex suck-swallow-breathe sequence. This requires the function of 6 cranial nerves, 6 cervical nerves and a few thoracic nerves in order to coordinate as many as 31 muscles in the lips, cheeks, tongue, jaw, chin, soft palate etc.  All of this soft tissue means that there can be involvement of many structures in problems of latch or abnormal suck.

Let,s look at some of the muscles involved in moving the tongue.  The three main muscles of the tongue are the genioglossus, the hyoglossus, and the styloglossus. The genioglossus attaches the tongue to the chin. The hyoglossus attaches the tongue down to a thin bone in the neck called the Hyoid. Finally, the styloglossus attaches high up on the jaw bone close to the ear.

The Hyoid, which is located right above the “adam’s apple”, is an attachment point for several muscles of the face and head, as well as muscles of the sternum and shoulder.

The hyoid also doesn’t form a joint with any other bones and instead is held in position by the muscles above and below.  Keep in mind that the hyoid is a major attachment point from which the tongue functions.

Now that we’ve covered the muscles of the tongue, let’s look how the lower jaw is connected to the second bone in the neck called the axis. This bone acts as the pivot point around which the lower jaw can properly move. Also, the first and second bone in the neck have a close relation to the opening in the base of the skull where the cranial nerves responsible for eating and swallowing come from.

When there is an abnormal structural relationship between the head and the neck, many if not all of the structures that we have reviewed thus far can be compromised.

There are many things that can create an abnormal head and neck relationship. Some of these can happen while still in the womb. The womb can be a very confined space for a baby towards the end of pregnancy. This may cause some of the baby’s anatomy to become misshapened. That might cause something like a head tilt or outward turning feet. A baby who spends their final few weeks with their head tilted can have a slight tightness and shortening of muscles on one side of the neck compared to the other.

The birth process can also be a contributing factor to head and neck misalignment. Doctor assisted births can place twisting and pulling forces on the neck that can result is head and neck misalignment, as well as forceps delivery and c-sections. When you think of how the hyoid is held in place by muscles, and how the lower jaw has attachments to the neck, it becomes apparent how head and neck misalignment can create latch and swallowing problems.

A 2008 study (Rubie, Griffet, Caci, Bérard, El Hayek, Boutté) of 1001 babies found that 10.7% of babies that they studied had Moulded Baby Syndrome.  Moulded Baby Syndrome was classified as any of the following:

plagiocephaly (where the skull may be flattened in one area or asymmetrical )

torticollis, (head tilted to the side and baby often looking in the other direction)

congenital scoliosis (a curving of the spine – this can be mild and not very noticeable)

pelvic obliquity (misalignment of pelvis)

adduction contracture of a hip  (misalignment of hips)

malpositions of the knees or feet

An assymetrical skull can change the tension of one side of the tongue compared to the other by having assymetrical attachment points for the muscles.  A slight curving of the cervical spine could have an effect much like tilting your head to the side, where the muscle tension on the hyoid is assymetrical.  Assymetry of the pelvis and hips results in assymetrical tension on the spine, shoulders, neck and head.  All of which can affect the latch.

If a child is having latch and swallowing problems, the cause may very well be a tongue/lip tie, but those won’t be the only the only structures involved. Structural chiropractic along with Craniosacral Therapy should be a part of pre and post revision care. In fact, some cases of tongue/lip tie can and have been corrected with structural chiropractic and CST alone. If you suspect that your child may have a tongue tie or an abnormal head/neck relationship, there are steps you can take to ensure proper evaluation and correction if necessary. an evaluation by a pediatric dentist or lactation consultant familiar with tongue/lip ties is a good first step. An IBCLC can also help you devise tactics to be able to breastfeed your child until and while any possible ties and all structural hard and soft tissues are corrected. Schedule an assessment with a structural chiropractor who also does craniosacral therapy.

Alex Roes
Alex Roes
2023-12-21
I am a violinist that had tendinitis in both of my hands coming from my neck misalignment. Dr. Zifteh got me back to normal within a few months, and now I am in even better shape than before. 10/10
Brian Roes
Brian Roes
2023-12-18
Dr. Zifteh is an excellent chiropractor, who focuses on finding the least invasive way to get the maximum results for her patients. I have been receiving chiropractic care from her for about two months— the results have been remarkable. Not only has my neck and back pain decreased dramatically, but my posture has noticeably improved! Dr. Vicki Zifteh was recommended to me by a local medical doctor friend of mine as “the only chiropractor in Jacksonville I can wholeheartedly recommend.” I have had other chiropractors previously and I felt like they just started “cracking” without truly assessing what was happening in my body and systematically measuring progress and results. Dr. Zifteh is exactly the opposite. She is very conscientious about holistic assessments, x-rays (when necessary), symptom monitoring… and only makes physical adjustments when necessary. She is also highly trained in soft tissue work which makes the whole process very smooth and integrated. In addition to all of these things, she is punctual with her appointments, communicates professionally, and is very friendly and comfortable all the time. Highly recommend!
Benjamin Lamb
Benjamin Lamb
2023-11-06
Best Chiropractor Ive ever been to, hands down. I went to multille different ones to ease specific pain for over 5 years with no lasting relief. Dr. Soriano identified the root cause & provides consistant relief. He also instructed me with a plan to help the body to heal.
Jessica Hudson, D.C.
Jessica Hudson, D.C.
2023-10-05
Dr.s Soriano and Zifteh are top notch. Every time I get an an upper cervical adjustment, I feel so much clearer. I can think clearer, sleep better and function better overall. I can always count on Apex to put my head back on straight!
Deanne Roes
Deanne Roes
2023-09-29
My son is a violin performance major at university. During his second semester he began to experience pain in both arms, along with tingling and electric shock- like sensations. He became unable to play. He went to a doctor and was instructed to wear braces, take massive amounts of ibuprofen and give it time- there was “No injury only inflammation.” Two months passed, and he was not able to touch his violin, he was unable to text, type, hold a writing implement, or do any kind of fine motor skill activity. He could not work out, sleep well, and was dependent on pain relievers to get through the day. The pain and weakness remained the same. My son lost a semester of progress. During this time, I spoke with my son’s former pediatrician and she said “Without even seeing him I know what the problem is- it’s his neck. And there is one person in the city of Jacksonville who I know can help him.” We visited Dr. Zifteh who did extensive scans and developed a treatment plan. She was both honest in her assessment and full of hope and encouragement. Her approach was non-invasive and gentle, focused only where he needed adjustment. Within two months my son was pain free, edging back into practicing, and had regained full mobility of his fingers, hands and arms. Four months later, he has returned to full strength and stamina. He is performing, playing 4-5 hours per day, teaching, and back on track to accomplish his dream of becoming a professional violinist. Dr. Zifteh’s skill and care created a miracle for my son and we still are marveling at the healing he experienced. Thank you!!
Adison Nikolai
Adison Nikolai
2023-09-20
I started taking my 16 month old to Dr. Vicki for reflux. My daughter loves to go! I noticed an improvement in her reflux after several visits. Dr. Vicki takes the time to listen to you and is great with kids. Thank you!!
john gallagher
john gallagher
2023-09-18
Pleasant and patient, Dr. Zifteh took the time to ensure that I understood what she was doing for me and why.
Megan Kinney
Megan Kinney
2023-09-10
I would give 10 stars if I could. My son showed improvement IMMEDIATELY, after having issues latching for a little while he latched & was so relaxed & comfortable right after his adjustment with just 1 visit. Dr. Soriano is a Miracle worker!! He was very thorough & explained everything he was doing & why. He made us feel very comfortable too
Jennifer Vannoy
Jennifer Vannoy
2023-07-21
Dr. Soriano is so knowledgeable! He does a thorough exam, explains what should be normal, and he has an amazing bedside manner. We can't wait to see the progress he makes with our daughter!
Konrad Klonowski
Konrad Klonowski
2023-05-20
Dr. Vicki Zifteh's adjustments significantly reduced my chronic neck pain and headaches. Highly recommend and thank you for your help.