Have you ever heard of something called tongue posture? How about tongue positioning? Chances are you probably haven’t, but it’s a very real thing that can cause some very real problems if done incorrectly. In this week’s blog, your dentist in Cary covers what tongue posture is, why it’s important to have proper tongue posture, and a few ways to help improve yours, if needed.
What is Tongue Posture?
Tongue posture, also known as tongue positioning, is a fancy way of describing how our tongues are positioned in our mouths while at rest. Believe it or not, there’s actually a right way and a wrong way to rest your tongue. While this may sound silly or unimportant, the truth is that proper tongue posture can protect you from other whole-body concerns.
Risks of Bad Tongue Posture
Our tongues are incredibly strong and are connected to other areas outside of our mouths. This means that what you do with your tongue, including how you rest it, can affect the entire body. Bad tongue posture can have a negative effect on your eyes, nose, head, neck, shoulders, and of course, teeth. Improper tongue posture can contribute or lead to:
Incorrect Tongue Posture
If you find yourself resting your tongue on the bottom of your mouth or up against your teeth, you’re one of the 50% of Americans that have incorrect tongue posture. Constant pressure on the teeth can cause teeth to shift, become crooked, create a bad bite, and even result in habitual teeth grinding (which can create a whole host of problems on its own). Those who rest their tongues on the bottom of the mouth may suffer from more neck pain, jaw pain, and bad body posture overall. Additionally, bad tongue posture can change someone’s appearance and make the face take on a longer, flatter shape or cause the chin or forehead to jut forward.
Correct Tongue Posture
As your dentist in Cary will tell you, proper tongue posture can protect your oral health as well as your overall health. Practicing proper tongue positioning can lead to improved sleep, better breathing, and decreased neck, jaw, or head pain. So what exactly is the right way to do this?
Focus on resting your tongue gently on the roof of your mouth and about a half an inch away from your teeth. To fully practice proper tongue posture, your lips should be closed, and your teeth separated ever so slightly.
Can You Fix Improper Tongue Posture?
Good news — you can work to improve your tongue posture. Your dentist in Cary has a few tricks, and the first step in fixing bad tongue posture is to find the right spot where your tongue should rest. You can do that 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.
Like any habit, don’t expect your tongue posture to change overnight. Keep practicing these two tricks to remind yourself to consciously rest your tongue in that ideal position. Over time, muscle memory will replace bad, old posture habits with new, proper positioning.