Proper tongue posture: Why do you need it?

What is proper tongue posture?

Did you ever notice that our tongue also has a posture at rest? Studies have shown nearly 50% of Americans do not have proper tongue posture.

Proper tongue posture is, you gently position your tongue at the roof of the mouth, just about a half-inch away from the front teeth at rest. Your lips should be closed and teeth slightly parted.

Why is proper tongue posture so important?

Do you think that this simple but essential posture is really important? Well, most people do not realize proper tongue posture has such value.

Believe it or not, yes your tongue has to be in its proper position when you are not speaking,  eating, or drinking. Moreover, there are right and wrong ways people keep their tongues at rest.

Surprisingly proper tongue posture can help you to maintain overall health. Sounds interesting. Isn’t it?

Your tongue is a very strong muscle. It affects your mouth and teeth. In addition, it has connections with

  • Sinuses
  • Eyes
  • Nose
  • Head
  • Shoulders
  • Neck.

By seeing the above list you may already notice how important proper tongue posture is? Incorrect tongue posture can lead to several problems. Since your tongue can put enormous pressure on your teeth. This pressure can be right or wrong. When you put abnormal pressure on your teeth, it causes teeth to shift wrongly, crooked teeth, and bad bites on your tongue.

proper tongue posture, proper tongue posture

What is the proper tongue posture while sleeping?

Your tongue should completely rest on the palette while sleeping. Not just the tip of the tongue but also the middle and upper parts should rest on the palette. Similarly like in the rest, your lips should be closed. Moreover, your teeth will be slightly apart.

Bad tongue posture leads to several problems.

What is low tongue posture?

Low tongue posture happens is a common condition. However, it is an abnormal habit due to mouth breathing, tongue-tie, or sucking of the thumb. This occurs at any age and you should correct it as soon as possible.

In the case of mouth breathing, it is a habit or someone sometimes needs this bad posture. There are certain necessities to have this tongue posture.

When you stop breathing by nose or suddenly nose breathing is blocked you may try to breathe via the mouth. That is natural in certain sudden emergency cases. However, if you do this as a habit, your jaw comes down and the tongue positions lower than usual. They do this because they should allow the upper airways via the mouth.

Even after your nose breathing starts, your brain remembers. It keeps going with the previous bad-mouth breathing habit. Also, the low tongue posture can be present without the nose involvement.

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What is tongue thrust?

Tongue thrusting is pushing your tongue between the upper and lower teeth when you swallow. This can cause bad results.

What is a normal swallow?

During a normal swallow, your tongue tip is tightly pressed to the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. In addition, the rest of the tongue is pulled up towards the upper palette. Your lips should be closed and other teeth should be slightly touched. More importantly, there should be no additional muscle movements. In other words, there should be no other contractions in the chin, orbicularis oris muscle, or mentalis.

Why tongue thrust is bad?

The tongue is such a strong muscle. You may even not notice your tongue can change your teeth’ position. In other words, pushing the teeth constantly can change the natural position of teeth. This leads to more problems like an open bite.

A man can have about 200 bites per day and you can imagine how powerful this bad habit is.

What are the signs of low tongue posture/tongue thrust?

  • Mouth breathing – when you breathe through your mouth, it opens even at rest. The tongue rests in the wrong position and it lays forward.
  • Tongue tie – the tongue positioned more in the floor of the mouth instead of the roof. This is present in infants, children, and adults also. Tongue-tie can cause many problems.

There is a small connective tissue cord called “ lingual frenum” in your mouth under the tongue. It is a normal tissue but in some people, it is too strong, shorter, and tighter. This condition is another name “ankyloglossia”.

This is usually present at birth but it goes down with age. Remaining of the lingual frenum causes unwanted problems in breathing, oral function, and oral development.

  • When the tongue tie presents in adults it causes
    • headaches and migraine
    • Teeth grinding
    • Snoring
    • Obstructive sleep apnea
    • Shoulder pain
    • Jaw pain
    • Narrow jaws
    • Difficulty in speaking when speaking loud or soft
    • Mumbled speech
    • Poor dental health, etc.

How to correct the tongue tie?

There is a small surgery called “frenectomy”. Frenectomy is done by a dental surgeon. In this process, he will release the attachment of the lingual frenum. It needs a special pretreatment called “myofunctional therapy” to identify and ensure whether or not you need the surgery, frenectomy.

What is myofunctional therapy?

Myofunctional therapy or Orofacial Myology is a treatment for correcting bad habits of oral function. It ensures that your frenectomy surgery goes successful.

The treatment uses certain active and passive exercises of the tongue and the mouth. Patients have to do this treatment usually before and after the frenectomy surgery. Due to the constant bad habits of your tongue for a long time, even if your tongue position is surgically corrected it may remain the same as previous. Hence there will be no success of the surgery. Therefore to have the proper tongue posture, your tongue may need some pre-practice.

This treatment takes the patients away from dysfunctional habits or muscle patterns. In addition to the improvement of muscle behaviour, it ensures your oral and overall health. It keeps your breath normal and in a healthy way.

Moreover, it allows proper feeding, drinking, speech, and proper tongue posture.

For the frenectomy surgery, myofunctional therapy is started at least 6 weeks before the surgery.

Sample exercises of myofunctional therapy

proper tongue posture

You must get the myofunctional therapy under the supervision of a specialized myofunctional, occupational, or speech therapist. These healthcare professionals know how to choose the best therapy match with each patient. It is a highly tailored treatment specialized for you.

However, according to some guidelines here are some of those sample exercises. Remember these are only for educational purposes.

You need to repeat these exercises 10 times each and ideally do these at least 4 times a day. You may need about 45 minutes a day for the whole session.

Exercise 1: push up the tongue

You need to place your tongue on the upper palate of the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. Push it and place for 5 seconds. Do this 10 times.

Exercise 2: touch nose

Take out the tongue and try to touch the tip of your nose. Place it for 10 seconds. Then relax. Repeat 10 times.

Exercise 3: touch the chin

Take your tongue out and try to lick the bottom of your chin. Stay for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Exercise 4: push your tongue left

Take your tongue out and move it to the left side as far as you can. Hold it for 10 seconds. Then relax and repeat 10 times.

Exercise 5: Push your tongue right

Take your tongue out and move it to the right side as far as you can. Hold it for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Exercise 6: Roll your tongue

Roll your tongue towards the middle part like a taco shell. Stick out as much as you can. Hold it for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Exercise 7: Click your tongue

Try to make a loud click sound with your tongue against the roof of the mouth. Do it for 15 seconds. Repeat it 10 times.

Exercise 8: Push your tongue against a spoon

Place a spoon in front of your mouth. Then place the tip of your tongue against the spoon and hold it. Do not bend the tip but place firmly. Keep it for 10 seconds and repeat it 10 times.

Exercise 9: place the handle of a spoon

Hold a handle of a spoon between your lips. Do not keep the handle of the spoon between your teeth. Hold it for 10 seconds only using your lips. Try to keep it parallel to the floor of your mouth. As your strength improves you can place some additional weight on the spoon. For instance sugar cubes.

Exercise 10: Hold a button with your lips.

This exercise is for adults and children who have no risk of swallowing a button.

First, tie a button with a piece of thread at least 10 cm in length. Keep the button between your lips and teeth. Place it tightly and pull the thread. You should not let the button slip out. Pull for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat 10 times.

Other signs of low tongue posture/tongue thrust

  • Sucking habits – this is especially seen in small children. Sucking of the thumb, any finger, or pacifier can result in an incorrect resting posture of the tongue. Even after removing the finger or the cause, the poor habits of the tongue still remain.
  • Speech difficulties – wrong tongue posture can cause speaking difficulties. This can be seen with the “S” sound.
  • Orthodontic relapse – the difficulty of delay of teeth correcting after having braces.

How does bad tongue posture affect your health?

As you already know your tongue is such a strong muscle. Its health affects many other organs and systems of the body. It has impacts on the eyes, nose, ears, head, mouth, neck, and shoulders.

Also, it can cause problems in other areas of the body. If you do not follow the proper tongue posture it leads to problems such as,

  • Sleep apnea
  • Visual problems
  • Tooth damage
  • Jaw pain
  • Neck pain
  • TMJ disorders
  • Bad body posture

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder. If untreated sleep apnea can lead to health problems such as

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Enlargement of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • Diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attacks, etc.

Patients with sleep apnea do not breathe in their sleep several times. For instance, untreated sleep apnea patients stop breathing sometimes hundreds of times during sleep.

There are two types of sleep apnea.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea-In obstructive sleep apnea, your tongue, and the soft palate block the back of the throat. Ultimately it leads to blocking the windpipe or trachea avoiding normal breathing. These patients repetitively block their airways partially or completely.
  • Central sleep apnea – In central sleep apnea, you do not block your airways. Instead, your brain fails to send the signals to start breathing due to the instability of the respiratory control center of the brain.

Does tongue posture affect breathing?

Your tongue posture directly affects the quality of breathing. If you do not have the proper tongue posture during sleep, it can block the airways. This may be partially or completely. Blocking the airways leads to reduce the quality of the rest and causes several oral health issues.

Is mouth breathing bad?

Even though it is normal to have mouth breathing when you have nose congestion, continuous mouth breathing leads to health issues.

Mouth breathing all the time, even when sleeping, causes bad oral health in adults and children. It causes facial deformities, crooked teeth, and poor growth in children. If your child does mouth breathing for a longer time it may cause bad gum diseases. Since oral health affects other body systems, it can worsen other diseases also.

Why does my tongue have teeth marks on the side?

Some people have teeth marks on the sides of their tongues. This is a scalloped tongue. A scalloped tongue is due to stress, anxiety, or low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. This also indicates some health conditions such as sleep apnea and vitamin deficiency.

Although this may not be a serious health problem for you at first, you may need to consult a dentist for further instructions.

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What are the risks of not having proper tongue posture?

Don’t you realize that wrong tongue postures cause you trouble? Improper tongue posture leads to orofacial and dental issues.

Speech problems

Proper tongue posture affects the quality of speech. Improper tongue posture leads to speech dysfunction such as articulation disorders. Studies have shown that those people have distorted sounds when they speak.

In children, tongue thrust can cause speaking issues. Especially when producing certain sounds like sh, ch, zh, and j. If your child’s mouth breathing has weakened lips or tongue muscles it can cause mispronunciation of d, t, l, and n also.

When you constantly push your teeth with your tongue it can provide a lot of pressure on your teeth. Hence this leads to your front teeth pushing outward. Moreover, it can create gaps between the middle, top, and bottom teeth. In addition, it causes open bites.

Furthermore, improper tongue posture leads to speech disturbances like lisp over certain sounds you make.

Anterior Open Bite (AOB)

Anterior open bite is a condition where your back teeth are not touching when your front teeth have already touched each other.

AOB has hereditary reasons and other external factors.

  • Thumb or any finger sucking
  • Improper tongue posture
  • Improper lip position
  • True skeletal abnormalities
  • Lack of proper nose breathing.

According to the experts, proper tongue posture is more important for the growing jaws and occlusion of the teeth than the tongue function during swallowing.

The gap between the teeth can cause difficulties in biting, chewing, speaking, and unfavourable aesthetic looking. Among the various types of malocclusions, AOB is the most common type of malocclusion associated with articulation disorders.

●   Malocclusion

Malocclusion means you have crooked teeth or you don’t have a proper bite. In a normal bite

●   Visual problems of improper tongue posture?

You may be surprised to hear that your tongue posture affects your vision. Since there is a connection between your palate and eye sockets, your tongue posture has a direct impact on your vision. This can cause various vision problems and improperly positioned eyes.

There is another serious problem with improper tongue posture. By pushing your palatine bone forward, it affects the sphenoid bone. The sphenoid is a butterfly-shaped bone that forms the back of the eye sockets. The extraocular muscles or the external eye muscles are attached to a cartilage ring. That cartilage ring is attached to the sphenoid bone. 

Therefore when the palatine bone comes forward and disturbs the sphenoid bone it directly affects the eye. Hence you may get vision problems as a result of improper tongue posture.

●   Tooth damage due to improper tongue posture?

Putting abnormal pressure continuously on teeth leads to changes in teeth. Teeth become crowded, tooth grinding and result in tooth decay.

●   Can improper tongue posture cause neck pain?

If you are not having the proper tongue posture, your tongue tries to rest on the bottom of the mouth. This can cause neck pain and jaw pain. Surprisingly it can change your facial appearance.

What are the TMJ disorders associated with bad tongue posture?

The temporomandibular joint or TMJ is a major joint in your skull. It acts as a hinge and joins your jaw to the skull. You have two joints on each side of the skull.

Bad tongue posture can cause several disorders of the TMJ joint. You may feel pain around the joint. In addition, you may feel pain from the muscles of the joint. The muscles around the TMJ help to keep the joint in the correct position.

What are the benefits of having proper tongue posture?

Having proper tongue posture provides you; many more advantages than you think.

  • Better breathing
  • Improved sleep
  • Better swallowing
  • Decreased head, neck, shoulder pain
  • Clear and proper speech
  • Reduce staggering
  • Prevents teeth grinding
  • Avoid mouth breathing
  • Improves oral development
  • Prevents sleep apnea
  • Prevents snoring

How to achieve proper tongue posture?: how to correct bad tongue posture?

The good news is you can improve your tongue posture. You can simply push your tongue against the roof of the mouth while your mouth closes. Your upper and lower teeth will slightly part at this moment. The tip of the tongue should be about half-inch behind the front teeth.

This may take some time. So you have to be patient.

Keep focusing on the proper position of the tongue. If you were following a bad posture for a longer time, converting to the right posture will take considerable time. However, you can keep practising.

What is mewing tongue posture?

Mewing is a do-it-yourself (DIY) facial restructuring technique. Dr Mike Mew introduced this technique.

This is a tongue positioning technique for a new posture. Ultimately this can arrange your facial structure as a new one, especially the jawline. It helps to reshape your face, notably, it may thin your face. Getting a thin face is someone’s dream. These exercises make your jawline more defined.

How to mew?

You need to relax your tongue before practising mewing. This technique involves flattening your tongue against the roof of the mouth. With time it helps to realign your teeth. Moreover, it highlights the jawline.

For a proper mewing, first, you need to relax your tongue. Then keep the tongue entirely against the roof of the mouth. Not only the tip but also the back of your tongue should be kept against the roof. This may need lots of practice.

However, if you keep practising, your brain will get to know how to keep your tongue in the mewing posture. It keeps it as a second memory. Eventually, your tongue will go to the mewing posture.

The mewing technique doesn’t show overnight results. It may get years to show the best results. So you need to keep doing it if you truly need to have proper facial structure.

Can proper tongue posture change your face?

Proper tongue posture can help to change your face. This proper positioning of the tongue keeps the facial muscles relaxed and tight. It helps to keep your higher cheekbones and stronger jawline. It gives you an attractive face. Since your oral health affects the overall body health, maintaining the proper tongue position keeps your health as a whole.

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