Proper Tongue Placement: Why Does It Matter?

    Updated 15 January 2021 |
    Published 23 April 2019
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo
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    A recent explosion in articles, videos, and other content on the topic of tongue posture has probably got you thinking. How can it positively or negatively impact your life? Read on to find out.

    Why is tongue posture important? 

    Surprisingly, many people are now turning their attention to the relationship between tongue placement and overall health. This new trend has popularized a term known as “mewing.”

    Mewing is a technique which may offer a wide range of medical and cosmetic benefits. It has the potential to alleviate breathing problems, mouth pain, and even sculpt a more attractive jawline.

    So what is mewing? Mewing involves pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth when in a resting position, rather than letting it lie passively at the bottom. Easy enough, but the rapidly growing mewing community argues that this very simple exercise has more than meets the eye.

    Correct oral posture

    According to mewing advocates, poor tongue posture can produce a host of health problems, if left uncorrected. Next, we’ll discuss some ways to improve your form.

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    How to practice mewing

    Most of us have received little or no instruction on proper tongue placement, but mewing is easy as long as you follow these steps:

    • Instead of allowing your tongue to lie at the base of your mouth, place the tip against your hard palate (located behind the upper front teeth).
    • Flatten the rest of your tongue until it’s fully pressed up against the roof of your mouth.
    • Seal your lips and keep your teeth slightly apart.

    Symptoms of incorrect oral posture 

    There are a number of medical issues associated with improper tongue placement, including:

    • Snoring and sleep apnea
    • Bite dysfunction
    • Improper swallowing
    • Crowded teeth or front gaps
    • Muscular pain in the mouth
    • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
    • Neck pain/tension (due to joint dysfunction)
    • Developmental problems relating to the jaw and other areas 
    • Headaches

    The effects of tongue thrust

    Orthodontists point to one problem in particular which leads to tooth and jaw complications in their patients — a condition known as tongue thrust. Tongue thrust occurs when the tongue pushes itself forward between the upper and lower front teeth, instead of resting near the hard palate. Over time, tongue thrust may create tooth and jaw malformations that require orthodontic correction.

    Tongue thrust exercises

    If you suspect you might have this condition, consider trying these tongue thrust exercises which are designed to help you shake the habit. 

    • Begin by identifying the correct spot on the roof of your mouth where the tip of your tongue should make contact. It’s located just behind the upper front teeth. Once you’ve found it, practice touching this spot several times with the tip of your tongue.
    • Next, suction your tongue onto the roof of your mouth, smile, and then pop it off again. You should hear the sharp snap of your tongue as it releases. Try not to move your jaw during this exercise.
    • Lastly, raise your tongue to the roof of your mouth and suction it against your hard palate. Hold in place for five seconds, then release. Repeat several times.

    How to correct oral posture

    Lessen the possible impact of improper tongue placement on your oral health by taking the following factors into account.

    • Awareness is key; try to get a better sense of your oral posture throughout the day. Where is your tongue usually situated? Is it pressing against your front teeth or lying passively on the floor of your mouth?
    • While monitoring your tongue’s position, also take note of your breathing. Are your lips frequently open? If so, you’re probably breathing through your mouth, and this is often a sign of poor tongue posture.
    • Remember to keep an eye out for any other symptoms like teeth grinding, which potentially causes headaches, neck pain, and related issues.

    Incorrect oral posture can sometimes be successfully treated with the above measures. In the long run, however, it’s best to seek advice from a trusted professional such as a dentist 

    History of updates

    Current version (15 January 2021)

    Reviewed by Tanya Tantry, MD, Obstetrician & Gynecologist, Medical Consultant at Flo

    Published (23 April 2019)

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