Have 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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.