Proper tongue posture involves the placement and resting position of your tongue in your mouth. And, as it turns out, proper tongue posture may be more important than you might think.
The ideal position for your tongue is pressed against the roof of your mouth rather than letting it “settle” at the bottom of your mouth. You don’t want your tongue to press against the backs of your teeth either, as this may cause problems with your teeth alignment over time.
“Your tongue should be touching the roof of your mouth when resting,” explains Dr. Ron Baise, dentist of 92 Dental in London. “It should not be touching the bottom of your mouth. The front tip of your tongue should be about half an inch higher than your front teeth.”
Plus, resting your tongue against your hard palate — the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth — does potentially offer some benefits.
While your tongue posture might not seem incredibly relevant to your overall health and well-being, there are a few benefits to learning the correct tongue resting position.
“The potential benefits of good tongue posture include a likelihood to have better aligned teeth as poor tongue posture can put your tongue in the way of growing teeth,” Baise says. “This can negatively affect the way they grow by blocking the space that they grow into.”
Plus, improper tongue posture can lead to a narrower palate over time. Studies suggest that simply widening the palate can have a positive effect on the upper airway, especially in children and young adults, improved tongue posture, and even reduced nasal obstruction in children with sleep apnea.
Can tongue posture affect cheekbones and facial structure?
While tongue posture may have an impact on your cheekbones and facial structure, it appears to be more of a preventive measure.
How does this work? Baise explains that the narrowing of the palate that comes from improper tongue posture can reduce the amount of support for your jaw and cheekbones. As a result, your chin and cheekbones may become less prominent over time.
There’s no significant research into whether proper tongue posture can cause the reverse effect — widening the palate or changing facial structure as an adult.
Some people may advocate mewing, which is the practice of maintaining proper tongue posture in an attempt to create a wider palate. There are no studies that support this practice.
Regardless of whether proper tongue posture has any impact on your cheekbones or face shape, it’s clear that improper tongue posture does have the potential to create a few problems.
“This can negatively affect the way they grow by blocking the space that they grow into,” Baise says. “The most common of these is an open bite where your front teeth do not close properly at rest. This is caused by constant pressure on the back of your front teeth by your tongue.”
Poor tongue posture can also lead to problems including:
- speech impediments
- snoring and sleep apnea
- tooth grinding
- tongue thrust
- mouth breathing
Both tongue thrust and mouth breathing have the potential to lead to other health problems as well. Tongue thrust can lead to misaligned teeth and issues involving speech.
Mouth breathing, on the other hand, may cause halitosis, and a higher likelihood of developing sleep disorders and symptoms similar to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
If you want to improve your tongue posture, it’s easy to start practicing at home. Try to be more aware of where your tongue is resting throughout the day, and practice engaging in proper tongue posture.
Here’s a simple exercise for learning proper tongue posture:
- Place the tip of your tongue against the hard palate, on the roof of your mouth just above your top teeth.
- Using suction, pull the rest of your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth.
- Allow your mouth to close.
- Hold it there, breathing normally (if possible).
Try to repeat this several times throughout the day, especially as you become more aware of how your tongue is resting in your mouth.
Proper tongue posture helps maintain a wider palate. There’s little to no research that suggests adults canuse proper tongue posture to widen their palate or change their facial structure. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial.
As a preventive measure, proper tongue posture may help you avoid several health issues including misaligned teeth, poor breathing habits, and tongue thrust.
If you’re concerned about your tongue placement, teeth alignment, or breathing, speak with a doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.