Each of your teeth drain waste and toxins from your mouth. It’s the lymphatic system that plays a major role in balance and maintaining a healthy mouth.
It also plays a role in your immune function. Your lymphatic system is made up of many lymph nodes that are connected together by lymph vessels.
Lymph nodes are bean shaped organs that are found all over your body. Large groups or chains of lymph nodes can be found in your neck, under your arms and in your groin.
Patients who have surgery or radiation to lymph nodes damages your lymph nodes and vessels. This damage prevents fluid from flowing well and causes swelling. Swelling from damaged lymph nodes and vessels is called lymphedema.
Swelling in the mouth is similarly built up infection that the body can’t clear.
Unlike the circulatory system, the lymph system needs movement to drain properly, it doesn’t move from pressure from the heart ‘pumping’.
For patients undergoing head and neck cancer treatment, facial message and lymph node massage is employed by hospitals to help clear blocked lymph systems.
Here are three exercises to get your oral lymphatic system moving better:
1. Prepare your underarm lymph nodes
This prepares the lymph nodes under your arm to take in lymph fluid from your face and neck. Place it on an armrest or table for comfort.
• Place your palm against your underarm
• Gently pull up and in toward your body, then release
• Repeat 10-15 times
2. Stretch and release the skin from the front of your neck to your chest
Place your hand on the front of your neck where you have swelling. Move your hand down your neck towards your collar bone.
• Gently stretch the skin (not muscles) towards your collarbone. Then let go of the skin.
• Repeat this massage 15 times.
3. Stretch and release the skin on the back of your neck
• Place the palms of your hands on the back of your neck, just below your hairline
• Stretch the skin towards your spine and then down towards your back
Repeat 10-15 times.
How did these feel for you?