Proper posture is important. We know that slouching at your desk is not good for your back. The same can be true for your tongue. Holding the tongue in poor position can lead to dental and other problems. It may sound strange and unusual, but tongue posture is a real thing, and it can cause some very real problems. 50% of Americans have incorrect tongue posture.
Improper Tongue Posture
There are several reasons why you should be concerned about tongue position. The tongue can get in the way of teeth as they grow, blocking the space for the teeth to come in. The most common challenge is an open bite, where the front teeth do not properly close at rest. This can happen when the tongue is constantly pushing against the back of the teeth. Improper teeth alignment can lead to the need for orthodontic care. Proper tongue posture can offer a higher likelihood of better aligned teeth.
If your tongue is not in proper position, it can lead to bite issues. It can lead to teeth grinding. It can cause jaw damage and possibly even lead to TMJ. In extreme cases, it may require surgery.
Improper tongue posture can lead to a narrower palate over time. This narrow palate impacts the airway. Improper tongue position can cause someone to be a mouth breather. The mouth doesn’t close properly. The airway may even be blocked by a narrow palate. This can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Especially in sleep, this can lead to breathing primarily through the mouth. Mouth breathing is a common cause of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. It can cause halitosis. It even can lead to ADHD. Improved tongue position, on the other hand, especially in sleeping, can improve this airway, reduce nasal obstruction, and help with sleep apnea.
A narrow palate can also lead to a reduction in the amount of support in your jaw and cheekbones. This can change the structure of the face. Your face could have a longer or flatter face. It may cause the chin or forehead to jut forward. Poor tongue posture can even lead to neck or head pain and poor overall body posture.
Poor tongue posture can lead to tongue thrust. This is where the tongue improperly pushes out between the top and bottom teeth. Often children push their tongue out forward when they are swallowing. When swallowing, the tongue should be held against the roof of the mouth. This can impact teeth alignment as well as speech.
Throughout the day, the tongue position varies with your speech. For example, to make sounds such as “a” and “k,” the tongue should be held lower than its neutral position. In contrast, to make sounds like “i,” “u” and “g,” the tongue should be held above its neutral position. The tongue retracts in the mouth to make sounds like “o” or “u.” If your tongue’s resting position is not where it should be, you could have difficulty making these sounds.
Proper Tongue Posture
To improve tongue posture, you must first be aware of where your tongue is resting throughout the day. When your tongue is at rest, the tip of the tongue should touch the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth. Your tongue should not rest low on the floor of your mouth.
How can you check your tongue posture? You can check one of two ways:
- Slide – Place the tip of your tongue on the back of your top teeth and then slide it backward. You should feel a spot where the roof of your mouth slopes upward. The area right before that slope is the prime tongue resting spot.
- Smile – The other way you can find your ideal tongue position is to smile really wide (we’re talking about really cheesy smile), raise your eyebrows, and try to swallow without unclenching your teeth. You should feel your tongue rise to the roof of your mouth into its ideal resting position.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a treatment that can help improve tongue posture. This treatment is performed by speech-language pathologists.
There are also exercises you can do to learn the proper position for tongue.
- Place the tip of your tongue against the hard palate, on the roof of your mouth just above your top teeth.
- Using suction, pull the rest of your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth.
- Allow your mouth to close.
- Hold it there, breathing normally (if possible).
Repeat this several times throughout the day to become more aware of your tongue’s position in the mouth.
The bottom line is that proper tongue posture helps you to maintain a wider palate. Proper posture can help you to avoid problems such as misaligned teeth, poor breathing, and tongue thrust. If you’re concerned about your tongue placement, teeth alignment, or breathing, speak with a doctor about any questions or concerns you may have. At Danville Family Dentistry we will help you take the best care of your tongue posture and all of your oral health. Contact us today!
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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.