By now you probably know the importance of brushing with the right toothpowder and how to have a healthy, white smile... but did you know that the position of your tongue could also have a major effect on your overall health and wellbeing?
It's called "tongue posture" or “tongue positioning”, and it is actually a thing!
How your tongue sits in your mouth can affect everything from how you swallow, sleep and even see - to the shape of your face and also your posture!
A whopping 50% of the population hold their tongue in the WRONG position. Which is when your tongue rests at the bottom of the mouth, pushing against the bottom teeth.
Why is Bad Tongue Positioning Bad?
Do you remember the song that goes, “the leg bone is connected to the knee bone?”
Our mouth and tongue is just like that! Just as our teeth have meridians that are connected to different body parts, our tongue is also connected to different body parts, including our mouths, eyes, noses, heads, necks, and shoulders.
With that in mind, you can see how the proper tongue positioning or lack thereof can cause trouble in these other areas of our bodies. Improper tongue posture can contribute or lead to:
- Snoring and Sleep Apnea – because improper tongue positioning narrows your palate and your sinuses, creating complications for your breathing.
- Vision Problems – The palate is connected to your eye sockets and impacts how your eyes rest in your head which affects your vision!
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (better known as TMJ)
- Crowded Teeth
- Gap in the Front Teeth
- Dysfunctional Bite – Overbite, underbite or crossbite.
- Teeth Grinding
- Tooth Decay
- Recessed Chin
- Longer, Flatter Face Shape
- Neck and Shoulder Tension and Pain
- Poor posture
Not good, right?
What is Bad Tongue Positioning?
Bad tongue posture is when your tongue rests on the bottom of your mouth or up against your teeth. This can cause neck pain, jaw pain, and even change the way you look.
Resting your tongue at the bottom of your mouth over time can create a longer, flatter face shape or cause the chin or forehead to jut forward permanently, in addition to contributing to a poor posture..
What is Proper Tongue Positioning?
So, what exactly is proper tongue positioning?
Proper tongue positioning is when your tongue rests on the roof of the mouth about a ½ inch behind your front teeth. Your lips should be closed and teeth slightly parted.
You don’t want any pressure on your bottom or top front teeth. Even the slightest pressure over time will move them (that’s how orthodontics works!). It is important that the entire tongue presses against the roof of the mouth.
Over time this can expand the palate, preventing the crowding of your teeth and opening up your sinuses.
How to Practice Good Tongue Positioning
Good tongue positioning is a lot to think about, so what you want to do is train your tongue to sit in the proper position naturally.
So here are two exercises to start with:
This first exercise helps you get an idea of the shape of your mouth as well as where your tongue should be. Start by feeling the back of your teeth with the tip of your tongue. Now slide the tip back to the flat area just behind your teeth, then to the bumpy, ridged area behind that. You will notice that the roof of your mouth slopes off behind the ridged area into the cavity of your palate. It is just before the slope that your tongue should rest.
The second exercise helps you find where the back of your tongue should rest. Start by making a big, closed mouth grin and raising your eyebrows. Now, try to swallow while keeping your teeth clenched. This may be difficult, but if you can do it successfully, you will feel the back of your tongue pressing against the roof of your mouth.
And that's it! Now you know better so you can do better.
With enough awareness and practice, you can train your tongue posture so you look better and feel better too!