“Why Do My Gums Hurt?”

man examines his gumsYou probably already know that when your teeth hurt, you should see your dentist in Wicker Park as soon as you can. But what do you do if you’re experiencing gum pain? When your gums hurt, it may be a sign of something serious happening in your mouth, or it could be something minor. How do you know the difference? Here are some of the common explanations behind why your gums may hurt. 

Gum Disease

One of the most common signs of gum disease is painful, swollen, red gums. You may experience increased pain when brushing or flossing your teeth, and you may also notice that your gums bleed during those activities. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that doesn’t happen suddenly but rather over time and often due to poor oral hygiene. If left untreated, gum disease can lead a whole host of both oral and overall health concerns such as tooth loss, heart disease, kidney disease, and even some cancers. However, if caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully. This is one reason why seeing your dentist in Wicker Park every six months is so important. 

Oral Cancer

Another possible explanation for gum pain can be oral cancer. Even though oral cancer can affect the tongue, cheeks, throat, or the gums, it’s important to talk with your dentist in Wicker Park about any changes in your mouth, especially if they cause pain or are accompanied by a sore that doesn’t go away. Oral cancer usually presents itself as a sore, but it doesn’t necessarily have to feel sore, too, so make sure to monitor any abnormalities and report to your dentist sooner rather than later if they don’t go away. Oral cancer can be treated successfully, but the earlier it’s caught, the more successful treatment tends to be. 

Canker Sores

Speaking of sores in the mouth, canker sores are incredibly common and usually no cause for concern. However, they can cause gum pain. There’s no magic treatment to making a canker sore go away, and they will usually disappear on their own. But again, if what started out as what you thought was only a canker sore doesn’t get better on its own, a visit to a dentist in Wicker Park should be the next step. 

Hormones

Now, this explanation behind gum pain only applies to women, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. During different times in a woman’s life, she goes through hormonal changes, especially during menstruation or pregnancy. One area that can be affected by these shifts in hormone level is the gums. It’s common for women to experience swollen or bleeding gums during both pregnancy and a few days before their periods. The pain is usually temporary but you should still discuss it with your dentist. 

If you’re experiencing any gum pain, it’s important to call and schedule an appointment with your dentist in Wicker Park. The pain may be minor and nothing that requires treatment, however, it’s better to get it checked out so that any potential problems are caught early and treatment can begin before the problem gets bigger. 

Migraines & Dentistry

migraine manAn estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Wicker Park, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine

Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.  

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain is usually spread throughout the head
  • Pain remains consistent and doesn’t tend to worsen with activity
  • Usually has the feeling of constant pressure 
  • Symptoms are localized to only the head

Migraine Symptoms

  • Pain usually affects one side of the head more than the other, but not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Aura symptoms such as blind spots, zig-zag lines, or shimmery, glowy patches

Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry?

We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Wicker Park talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look. 

Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines. 

We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Wicker Park, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively. 

The Benefits of Xylitol

sweetenerYou’ll always hear your dentist in Wicker Park talk about the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth to maintain a healthy mouth. But it may come as a surprise to you to hear your dentist talk about the benefits of chewing gum. That’s exactly what we’re here to do. However, not just any gum will do. It’s important to check the ingredients. Does it contain sugar? It’s no good. How about high fructose corn syrup or saccharine? No, those aren’t great either. What about xylitol? Now that’s the good stuff! Let’s check out why this sweetener gets our seal of approval.

Xylitol: 101

While xylitol is yet another sugar substitute, it’s actually quite different from many others available at your local grocery store. First of all, xylitol is natural — it’s found in fruits, veggies, and even in our bodies during digestion. Second, xylitol tastes like sugar but doesn’t act like sugar once it’s in our bodies. This means you can still have a sweet treat without all of the negative side effects of actual sugar. You see, sugar is pretty harmful to our overall health. It can spike blood glucose levels and, over time, cause difficulties with your metabolism. This may result in weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. Xylitol, on the other hand, is low in calories (it has 40% fewer calories than sugar!) and has a low glycemic index. As a result, blood glucose levels are nearly unaffected by xylitol, and bodies are protected. But that’s not all. As your dentist in Wicker Park knows, xylitol may protect oral health, too. 

The Protective Power of Xylitol

We already know that xylitol is a healthier alternative to sugar and can protect our bodies. But the oral benefits of xylitol are also plentiful. Chewing gum that contains xylitol may: 

  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Starve bacteria
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Reduce your risk of gum disease
  • Remineralize teeth
  • Increase saliva production
  • Reduce the acidity of your saliva
  • Help with calcium absorption 

How does xylitol do all of that? We’re glad you asked. 

Essentially, xylitol starves a dangerous bacteria commonly found in our mouths called Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria love to feed on sugar as it gives them fuel and allows them to multiply, which is a big problem. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause of plaque buildup, and when there are too many Streptococcus mutans, there’s probably also too much plaque. The result? An increased likelihood of developing cavities. But when we replace sugar with xylitol, we see a much different result. Streptococcus mutans bacteria will still feed on the xylitol, but instead of fueling the bacteria, xylitol actually starves them and they start to die. This means fewer bacteria and a lower risk of decay. 

Even though chewing xylitol gum can go a long way in protecting teeth, it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned oral hygiene. Yes, gum can freshen breath, and yes, xylitol can help prevent decay, but if you don’t brush and you don’t floss, and if you don’t see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly, chances are xylitol won’t be enough to protect your teeth. 

Asthma & Oral Health

asthma inhalerMay is Asthma Awareness Month, a time when both healthcare professionals and asthma patients come together to raise awareness of the common chronic disease, as well as share things that can improve asthma sufferers’ lives. Your dentist in Wicker Park may seem like an odd person to talk about asthma, but the truth is, there is a connection between asthma and oral health, and we’d like to do our part to help.

What’s Dentistry Got To Do With It?

Asthma affects 1 in every 13 Americans, or close to 25 million people just in our part of the world. This life-long condition affects the respiratory system and can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. It’s a very serious condition that can be treated, but if it’s not treated properly or quickly enough, it can lead to death. So how exactly does this relate to dentistry? 

Mouth Breathing
People with asthma tend to have a hard time breathing and feel as if they can’t get enough oxygen with each breath. Because of this, many asthma patients will breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, since they can get more air into the lungs this way. However, your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that mouth breathing doesn’t come without risks. Mouth breathing can reduce saliva amounts, as well as the body’s ability to produce more saliva, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth is an oral health condition that may seem like only a minor, uncomfortable nuisance, but the truth is dry mouth can increase the risk of decay, cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. Usually, saliva will rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth, protecting teeth against their damaging effects. However, when a mouth is too dry to do this, bacteria and acids can attack teeth, resulting in decay. Additionally, when bacteria are left to linger around, it can lead to bad breath. 

Asthma Treatments

Similar to mouth breathing, many asthma treatments, such as inhalers, also cause dry mouth. As we know, a dry mouth is a perfect environment for bacteria and acids to cause damage. If patients do notice a dry mouth after taking their medication, they should talk with their doctor and dentist in Wicker Park to find ways to relieve dry mouth. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting with your physician. 

What You Can Do

There is some good news for asthma patients who are dealing with dry mouth as a result of either medication or mouth breathing. There are things you can do decrease your risk of oral health problems such as: 

  • Staying Hydrated. Water is one of the most important things for everyone, whether they’re an asthma patient or not. Drinking enough water throughout the day helps keep the mouth moist and helps to wash away bacteria and food particles as well as neutralize damaging acids. 
  • Rinsing With Water. A quick rinse of water after taking asthma medication will help get rid of any ingredients that contribute to dry mouth so they aren’t left lingering around all day. The more remnants of medication you can remove, the lower the chance of dry mouth. 
  • Talking to Your Dentist. Your dentist is a part of your healthcare team and needs to know about any health conditions you have, including asthma. Knowing your health history helps your dental team customize treatment for you and notifies them to be on the lookout for any oral health concerns that may result from other health problems in the rest of the body.

As always, the best ways to protect oral health against decay, bad breath, and gum disease are to brush and floss every day and to see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months for checkups and professional cleanings, whether you’re an asthma patient or not. 

Reduce Your Risk of a Dental Emergency

emergency room signDental emergencies can be scary and painful. Most often, these emergencies are a result of an unexpected accident, but other times they can be avoided by taking certain preventive measures. Join your dentist in Wicker Park as we share some easy ways you can reduce your risk of a dental emergency.  

  • Don’t Chew on Anything That’s Not Food. Our teeth are meant to help us chew and digest our food. But that doesn’t mean we should chew on non-food items. Nibbling on pen caps, pencils, fingernails, or other foreign objects can increase your risk of chipping or cracking a tooth, breaking a tooth, or injuring the soft tissues in your mouth. If it’s not food, keep it out of your mouth.
  • Be Careful With the Food You Chew. So, even though we talked about how your teeth are specifically designed to help us chew our food, some foods can also increase the risk of tooth damage. Be careful when snacking on popcorn, hard fruits or vegetables, and even nuts. These foods are tough to chew, and if you catch a popcorn kernel or bite into a tough nut when you’re not expecting it, you can easily crack or chip a tooth or dental restoration. Lastly, avoid crunching on ice cubes. These frozen blocks are notorious for creating chips, cracks, and fractures in teeth. 
  • Choose Water. Water is the best beverage to both hydrate our bodies and to keep our oral health in tip-top shape. Other beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks may seem refreshing, but they are packed with sugar and acid. These two ingredients are a particularly bad combination for your teeth as they can both contribute to decay and weakened enamel. 
  • Avoid Tobacco. All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco damage teeth and can not only increase the likelihood of experiencing a dental emergency, but they can also cause long-term, serious complications to both your oral health and overall health. Tobacco users tend to be at greater risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and even tooth loss. 
  • Limit Your Snack Times. Snacking can be good for you, but constantly snacking can be dangerous to your oral health. When we snack multiple times throughout the day, we’re continuously introducing food particles into our mouths. Why is this concerning to your dentist in Wicker Park? Well, more food particles in your mouth mean more bacteria. And a constant stream of foodstuffs regularly fuels the bacteria and keeps them active. As a result, the bacteria are constantly releasing an acidic byproduct, increasing your risk of decay and cavities. 

Following the tips above won’t guarantee the prevention of a dental emergency, but they can help lower the risk and keep your mouth healthy. Of course, making sure to follow a strict oral hygiene routine at home is also important to protect your smile. Brushing twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly.*

If you think you may have a dental emergency, call your dentist to determine the best course of action for your specific needs. 

*At the time of publishing, the ADA has recommended the postponement of all preventive dental appointments. Please check your local recommendations.

Oral Health Dos & Don’ts

woman brushing teethWith all of the uncertainty in the world today, we understand that your oral health may not be the first thing on your mind. But even though we’re temporarily postponing all elective dental procedures, your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that we’re still thinking about you and your oral health. We’re here for you during this tough time and want to help any way we can, which is why we’ve compiled a guide of oral health dos and don’ts that can help keep your teeth, gums, and entire mouth healthy until we can see you again. 

Up First: The Dos

We like leading with the positive so let’s first focus on what you should do to protect your teeth during your at-home oral hygiene routine. 

  • Brush & FlossThe benefits of regularly brushing and flossing your teeth are undeniable, and you should continue to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day (even if you’re not leaving the house). Cleaning your teeth and removing debris from between them goes a long way in keeping your breath fresh and eliminating bacteria. 
  • Replace Your ToothbrushYour toothbrush needs to be in good condition to do its job effectively. For this reason, your dentist in Wicker Park recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months or as soon as you notice the bristles starting to fray. You should also get a new toothbrush if you get sick. 
  • Store Your Toothbrush CorrectlyBelieve it or not, there is a right way to store your toothbrush — upright and uncovered. 
  • Wash Your HandsThis advice is everywhere today and one that we wholeheartedly agree with. Washing your hands several times a day helps reduce the risk of getting sick. You should also wash your hands prior to brushing your teeth or flossing. 
  • Disinfect Your ToothbrushA recent study found that 0.5% hydrogen peroxide effectively reduces coronavirus infectivity. To make this solution: 
    • Mix 1 fl oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 5 fl oz of water
    • Soak your toothbrush in the mixture for 10 minutes. Dump out the mixture. 
    • Rinse your toothbrush prior to brushing.

Now: The Don’ts

Just like there are things you should do to protect your oral health, there are also things that you should avoid if at all possible. 

  • Don’t Share Your ToothbrushYour toothbrush is yours and yours alone. Don’t share it with anyone, including other family members. Doing so can easily transfer bodily fluids from you to them or from them to you. 
  • Don’t Allow Family Brushes to TouchSimilarly to the above, you shouldn’t allow family members’ toothbrushes to touch while being stored. Make sure they’re kept a few inches away from each other. 
  • Don’t Bite Your NailsMillions of Americans bite their nails, but now may be a good time to work on breaking that habit. Not only does nail biting easily spread bacteria from whatever may be lurking under our fingernails to our mouths, but it can also damage teeth. 

As of the publishing date, the American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended the postponement of any preventive or routine dental care for three weeks. During this time, your dentist in Wicker Park wants to encourage you to do everything you can to take care of your smile, including following the tips above. Stay healthy, and we hope to see you soon.

National Nutrition Month

nutritionEvery March is recognized as National Nutrition Month and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Its purpose is to raise awareness of just how important it is to eat healthily. But good nutrition doesn’t only benefit our bodies, it can also help protect your oral health. Join your dentist in Wicker Park as we do our part in promoting good dietary habits for your oral health and whole-body health. 

Simplifying Nutrition

The truth is, eating right doesn’t sound too difficult. But fully understanding nutrition and those crazy nutrition labels can be confusing. The basics are, well, basic — don’t eat too much sugar, avoid indulging in fast food, eat more vegetables, etc. However, truly fueling your body with what it needs to perform at its best is complicated. In fact, even the Food Guide Pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed twice since it was created in 1992. And the current MyPlate dietary guidelines are individualized based on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. Essentially, what’s right for one person may not be right for another. No wonder we’re all confused! The best way to find out the best dietary recommendations for you is to check out the MyPlate checklist to find your ideal combination of: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

Nutrition & Oral Health

We know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can certainly benefit our bodies and help keep us healthy. The same is true for your oral health. Sugary foods, carbs, and acidic foods and drinks can definitely put teeth at risk for decreased enamel protection and, as a result, more susceptible to decay and cavities. Try your best to avoid those foods in high quantities. Instead, choose some of the best foods for your smile (and your body) including: 

  • Cheese
  • Fatty Fish
  • Eggs
  • Raw Veggies – especially the crunchy ones!
  • Water

More on Sugar

It’s no secret that your dentist in Wicker Park really, really doesn’t like sugar. This is because sugar is one of the top contributors to decay. When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid attacks tooth enamel, weakening it, which makes it easier for bacteria to find its way into teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies. The result? Decay, cavities, and the need for dental treatment such as fillings or even a root canal. Reduced tooth enamel can also make teeth very sensitive to hot or cold or change the color from bright white to a dull, darker appearance. 

However, sweet treats aren’t the only snacks that are packed with sugars. In fact, there are foods out there that don’t even taste sweet but have the same effect. Carbohydrates have something called the hidden sugar effect. As we eat them, carbs break down into simple sugars, and we know what happens in our mouth when we give the bacteria sugar. So even if you don’t have a traditional sweet tooth, check out the nutrition labels and try to limit not only foods with high sugar content but also those with a lot of carbs. 

Choosing healthier meals and snacks for you and your family can help you all live a healthy life. Eating foods that are good for your body can also protect your teeth from the damaging effects of sugar and acid. Try to pick foods that are good for you overall. Your body, your smile, your dentist in Wicker Park will thank you for it.  

Do You Need to Brush Your Tongue?

boy and father brushing teethYou will hear your dentist in Wicker Park talk a lot about how important it is to brush and floss your teeth every day to protect your teeth and keep your mouth healthy. But did you know that you should also brush your tongue as well as your teeth? The truth is, people who don’t brush their tongue regularly are putting their teeth and overall oral health at risk. 

The Fascinating Tongue

Our tongues may not seem that fascinating, but to your dentist in Wicker Park, these muscles are actually quite interesting and important. Not only are our tongues one of the strongest muscles in our bodies, but they also help us do many useful, everyday tasks such as speak, chew, and swallow. Tongues also have about 10,000 taste buds that allow us to taste every bit of our favorite foods. But these taste buds are also really great places for bacteria to hide. If those bacteria are not removed regularly, they can start to negatively affect oral health. 

What Happens if You Don’t Brush Your Tongue?

Our tongues are made up of tons of tiny bumps called papillae. These papillae create peaks and valleys on our tongues and give bacteria the perfect place to settle. If the bacteria aren’t removed, you may experience some unwanted side effects. Let’s take a look at a few. 

  • Bad BreathOne of the most common side effects of not brushing your tongue is bad breath. While bad breath can be caused by a lot of different things, an unclean tongue can be to blame. 
  • Decreased Sense of TasteEveryone loves to eat their favorite foods because they taste good. But when a tongue is not properly cared for, bacteria can coat our taste buds and decrease our sense of taste. This means that our favorite foods may not taste quite as good as they once did. 
  • Black, Hairy TongueEven though this sounds scary and gross, black, hairy tongue is a very real thing that can occur from not brushing your tongue. This discoloration happens when food and drink particles aren’t removed from the surface of the tongue and essentially stain those tiny papillae. It should go away on its own once you get into the tongue-brushing habit. 
  • Gum DiseaseSince our tongues are in contact with our teeth throughout the day, everything on our tongues can easily transfer onto our teeth. When tongue bacteria move to the teeth, it can cause decay and, if left untreated, progress into gum disease. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can cause tooth loss if not treated. 

How Do You Clean Your Tongue?

It’s important to brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth. This will give you the cleanest mouth. You don’t need to scrub your tongue hard, and truth be told you shouldn’t. A gentle brushing from the back of the tongue to the front and from side-to-side will do just fine. However, patients with a strong gag reflex may have trouble with this method. If this is the case, try using a tongue scraper that you can buy at any pharmacy. It’s just as effective as brushing but may not trigger the gag reflex as much as a toothbrush. 

Brushing your tongue is a crucial step in making sure you’re caring for your overall oral health as well as possible. Of course, seeing your dentist in Wicker Park at least every six months is also necessary. 

Is Cosmetic Dentistry Right for Me?

smiling woman with glassesWe all want to have a smile that we’re proud of and can feel confident about showing it off in pictures and in public. After all, your smile can say a lot about you. But what do you do if you’re unhappy with your teeth and shy away from sharing it with the world? Turn to your dentist in Wicker Park to see whether cosmetic dentistry may be the solution you’re looking for. Here is a great place to start. 

Determine What You Want

Before you or your dentist will know whether cosmetic dentistry will give you the smile you want, you need to know what it is you’re trying to achieve. The more specific you can be about what you don’t like about your smile as well as what you wish was different, the more you’ll know about whether or not cosmetic dentistry is the right solution for you. Take these questions into consideration: 

  • Do I wish my teeth were whiter? 
  • Do I want a straighter, more even smile? 
  • Does this minor chip in my front tooth really bother me? Would I feel better if it was fixed?

Find the Best Cosmetic Dentist for You

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of desires, the fun part of finding the best dentist for you can begin. Although it may seem like a daunting task, it really doesn’t have to be. Check-in with family and friends to see if they have any recommendations or head online to search for local cosmetic dentists in your area. Read reviews, check out websites, and look at before and after photos. After you’ve decided on a dentist, schedule a consultation. 

Know What Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments Are Out There

There are several treatments that all fall under the category of cosmetic dentistry, but not all of them are right for every situation. Let’s check out a few common treatments. 

  • Teeth Whitening – If you want to take your teeth from dull and discolored to bright and white, you may want to consider a professional smile whitening treatment. Whitening that’s done by your dentist in Wicker Park can boost your teeth up to several shades brighter in just one visit. 
  • Veneers  – Like teeth whitening, veneers can help brighten the appearance of dull, discolored teeth that don’t respond to bleaching. Veneers essentially cover up the front surface of teeth with a thin piece of porcelain. They’re custom created in shape and color for a natural look so nobody will even know they’re there. 
  • Bonding – Dental bonding is another option that can correct discoloration but it can also fix minor chips, cracks, or gaps for a more even smile. The process involves both science and art to create a natural appearance but the results can transform a smile.

Nobody should have to live with a smile they’re unhappy with. Luckily, we have cosmetic dentistry to help. If you’re considering cosmetic dentistry, make a list of what you’d like to change, research cosmetic dentists in Wicker Park, and become familiar with which treatments can help you get the look you want. Finally, make the move and schedule a consultation. Your journey to a new smile is only a phone call away.

Proper Resting Tongue Position: Yes, That’s a Thing

woman sticking out tongueHave you ever bitten your tongue and then thought to yourself, “How did that happen? Am I resting my tongue in the wrong place?” The truth is, about 50% of Americans have something called improper tongue posture or positioning. That’s right, there is, in fact, a correct place to rest your tongue. But where exactly should the tongue rest? Should it relax at the bottom of your mouth? Or the top? Maybe it’s between the teeth. Let’s check in with your dentist in Wicker Park to find out. 

What is Tongue Positioning?

Tongue positioning and tongue posture are interchangeable terms used to describe the positioning of our tongues while at rest. Even though this may sound silly, there is such a thing as good tongue positioning and bad tongue positioning, and the truth is, bad tongue positioning can affect oral health as well as other parts of the body. 

Why is Bad Tongue Positioning Bad?

Do you remember the song that goes, “the leg bone is connected to the knee bone?” Well, our tongues are kind of like that. You see, tongues are super strong muscles that impact several areas of our bodies, including our mouths, eyes, noses, heads, necks, and shoulders. Knowing this, it probably comes as no surprise that if we don’t have proper tongue positioning, it can cause trouble in these other areas of our bodies. Improper tongue posture can contribute or lead to: 

What is Proper Tongue Positioning?

So, what exactly is proper tongue positioning? Simply put, proper tongue positioning occurs when someone gently rests their tongue on the roof of the mouth and away from the teeth. During rest, the lips should also be closed, and the teeth slightly parted. Practicing proper tongue positioning can help protect teeth from shifting and can improve sleep, decrease neck and jaw pain, and reduce the number or intensity of headaches. 

What is Bad Tongue Positioning?

Your dentist in Wicker Park will tell you that if you rest your tongue on the bottom of your mouth or up against your teeth that you have bad tongue positioning. Besides the concerns listed above, putting repeated pressure on the back of teeth can cause them to shift, become crowded, or even result in tooth grinding and decay. Additionally, resting your tongue on the bottom of your mouth can cause increased neck pain, jaw pain, and even change the way someone looks. Go ahead and try something for us. Rest your tongue up on the roof of your mouth, then move it down to the bottom of the mouth. You should notice an obvious shift in your chin, neck, and head. Now, if the tongue is rested on the lower mouth over several years, it can create a longer, flatter face shape or cause the chin or forehead to jut forward permanently. 

How to Fix Bad Tongue Positioning

The good news is you can work to improve your resting tongue positioning by first becoming more aware of where your tongue falls at rest. If you notice that your tongue is falling to the bottom of the mouth or is pushing up against your teeth, focus on consciously changing its position. Keep in mind, permanently changing your tongue positioning can take time and practice, so be patient. 

Of course, if you have concerns about your tongue positioning and how it may be affecting your oral and overall health, talk with your dentist in Wicker Park

(312)818-2441
Monica Urda, DDS
1755 W North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
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