Proper Tongue Posture
The impact of good sitting and standing posture is familiar to most of us, but good tongue posture may not be as familiar. Why is proper tongue posture important? You may have heard that the tongue is a strong muscle, but it is actually made up of eight separate muscles. The tongue’s multiple muscle attachments impact our mouths, sinuses, noses, heads, necks, and shoulders. It is no surprise that improper tongue positioning can lead to problems with all of those areas, headaches, long face syndrome, vision problems, and sleep apnea- to mention a few.
What is proper tongue posture?
If you were breastfed as an infant, then you would have pushed your mother’s nipple up against the roof of your mouth. So in a sense, a mother’s breast first trains an infant’s tongue to have good posture from day one. Proper tongue positioning is where the tongue rests at the top of the mouth, sitting about ½ inch behind the front teeth, not touching them. Your entire tongue (including the back) should be pressing against the roof of the mouth, your lips should be sealed and your teeth should be slightly apart. You do not want any pressure on your bottom or top front teeth. Even the slightest pressure over time will move them. This is how orthodontics works. It is important that the entire tongue presses against the roof of the mouth. Over time this can expand the palate, open the sinuses, and prevent crowding of teeth.
What is improper tongue posture?
Research has shown that as many as 50% of people have incorrect tongue posture. If your tongue rests on the bottom of your mouth or is pushing against your teeth, that is improper tongue posture. Take a moment to notice where your tongue is resting now. If you do not have proper tongue posture, here are a few easy exercises to find and practice your ideal resting position:
- Slide – Place the tip of your tongue on the back of your top teeth and then slide it back until you feel the area where the roof of your mouth slopes upward. The area right before that slope is the ideal tongue resting spot. The body of your tongue should also rest against the palate, the next step will help you get there.
- Smile – The other way you can find that tongue position is to smile really wide (a big fat cheesy smile), raise your eyebrows, and swallow without unclenching your teeth. You should feel your tongue rise to the roof of your mouth into its ideal resting position.
To see results from both of these exercises, practice them throughout the day. If you do so, muscle memory should naturally kick in and in time your tongue will rise to the proper position naturally.