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Dysphagia: when it is due to dental problems

dysphagia dentist milan

Dysphagia is the name associated with swallowing problems. It is a much more frequent pathology than one might think, the problem is often underestimated, but not being able to swallow a pastil or having difficulty in swallowing food could be a wake-up call.

The causes of dysphagia

The difficulty in swallowing and the discomfort you feel when swallowing can become a routine you get used to, instead of arousing alarm and possibly leading to the diagnosis of a disease.

The causes of swallowing problems can be various, there are usually two main factors:

problems swallowing
  • psychological malaise;
  • mechanical causes.

In times of high stress or anxiety it may happen that you have more difficulty swallowing. In other cases, dysphagia may be related to muscle problems, as happens in patients with Parkinson’s disease, or to an incorrect position of the tongue or in other cases to problems related to the teeth.

Dysphagia can also occur in childhood and many of the swallowing problems in children are related to problems with teeth, tongue position and misalignment of the dental arches.

Swallowing is a natural gesture that, even if unconsciously, we do about two thousand times a day, not just during meals. Swallowing saliva or water is a fundamental mechanical gesture for our health, already from early childhood.

Atypical swallowing

A dysfunction of the temporomandibular muscles or an incorrect position of the tongue lead, especially in children, to an atypical swallowing that manifests itself with a lengthening of the transit times of food from the mouth to the esophagus.

During childhood, when the child begins to relate to the first solid foods, verifying the normality of chewing and swallowing is a fundamental step.

In fact, dysphagia can have consequences on other aspects of the child’s development such as language, breathing and posture.

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Problems with swallowing and dentistry

The right alignment of the two arches and the correct position of the tongue guarantee adequate chewing and swallowing of food.

When the two dental arches are misaligned, the entire chewing and swallowing mechanism is compromised, thus creating possible dysphagia problems.

Correction of malocclusion through orthodontic therapy can generally resolve swallowing problems as well.

In addition to cases of malocclusion, the dentist may detect other dental problems that affect chewing and swallowing, such as:

The dentist could combine the application of the orthodontic appliance with physiotherapy sessions to re-educate the correct positioning of the tongue and jaw.

This would be useful to prevent bad posture habits of the tongue or jaw from manifesting again at the end of orthodontic therapy.

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