When most people hear the word “posture,” they think of keeping their shoulders back and their spine straight. But have you ever thought about the posture of your tongue?
The muscles in your face work together, allowing you to breathe, chew, swallow, and talk. But the muscle group that makes up the tongue greatly impacts how well you perform these seemingly simple tasks. The proper tongue position can prevent many dental and orofacial problems.
Where does your tongue sit when it’s at rest? Many people rest their tongues near the bottom of their mouths, putting pressure on their teeth, but this isn’t ideal.
Your tongue should press lightly against the roof of your mouth, with your lips closed and your teeth parted slightly. Resting your tongue in this position eliminates pressure on your top or bottom teeth, ensuring that they stay in place and allowing you to breathe through your nose.
Your tongue exerts constant pressure wherever it sits. When it is always touching your teeth, it can result in buck teeth or other orthodontic problems. Conversely, when it rests properly, it maintains an appropriate width for your palate.
Any deviation from this resting tongue position could contribute to the following problems:
Have you ever noticed your baby making sucking sounds while they sleep? Although it could be caused by allergies, these sounds are likely due to improper tongue position.
That’s because poor tongue positioning leads to mouth breathing, which comes with its own set of complications. Mouth breathers may experience halitosis, and have a higher chance of developing sleep disorders or symptoms like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Several factors can contribute to poor tongue positioning.
Sometimes, incorrect tongue positioning is caused by a condition known as “tongue-tie.” Tongue-tie occurs when the band of tissue connecting the underside of your tongue and the floor of the mouth is too short, limiting how the tongue moves.
Weak neck muscles can also be a cause of improper tongue position. Your neck muscles stabilize your head and help keep it upright. These muscles also support the tongue, keeping it in the proper position.
Any injury to the tongue, including during birth, may prevent it from resting correctly.
Crowded teeth can cause interference between the tongue and teeth. As a worst case scenario, it can disrupt your tongue’s ability to rest in the proper position.
One main benefit of keeping your tongue in the correct place is avoiding the uncomfortable complications of improper tongue position. However, the benefits run a little deeper than that.
When your tongue isn’t positioned correctly, your cheekbones and jawline may not have the support they need. Over time, they could lose definition because the facial muscles aren’t where they should be.
You won’t experience jaw or neck pain with the correct tongue position. Unexplained headaches tend to disappear, and an open bite can then be corrected.
Keeping your tongue in the correct position allows you to breathe through your nose. This is ideal because your nostrils help filter the air, which can reduce allergy symptoms and even cause you to experience less anxiety and stress.
An improper tongue position affects your sleep in many ways. Once corrected, you may stop grinding your teeth, breathing through your mouth, or suffering from sleep disorders.
Correcting an improper tongue position isn’t something you can do on your own. You must seek out a dentist in Chico, CA, who specializes in this condition. A dental professional will evaluate your oral health and resting tongue position to recommend the most suitable treatment option. One of several treatments may be recommended.
An orthodontist can create a special appliance that corrects your teeth and jaw position. Once these issues are fixed, your tongue will rest in the correct place.
A frenectomy is a simple surgical procedure that corrects the shortened band of tissue under the tongue by removing or modifying it to free up the tongue. This treatment is often used to correct tongue-tie. The use of dental lasers means this procedure is safer and more comfortable than ever before.
Myofunctional therapy involves a combination of exercises that train your tongue to rest in the correct position. These exercises may target the neck, face, and soft tissues of the mouth to establish the optimal tongue position.
If you’re concerned that your or your child’s tongue might be out of place, My Chico Dentist can help. We offer treatment for patients with tongue-tie and other positioning issues. Contact us today to learn more about myofunctional therapy and our related dental services.