The tongue is often thought of as one muscle, but it is actually a matrix of muscles that work in conjunction to perform a variety of tasks. Incredibly strong, the tongue can twist, extend and shrink, bend, suck, and cup, and this is to say nothing of its most useful functions: assisting in chewing and swallowing foods, and making speech possible.
The tongue is tireless. Due to redundancy in the muscle architecture, when one muscle in the matrix fatigues, another takes up its task without pause. This does not mean, however, that the tongue is never at rest – and it is this resting position that may pose problems for the teeth and jaw.
Proper Tongue Positioning
The ideal position of the tongue is approximately ½ inch behind the front teeth, at the roof of the mouth. In this position, the entire tongue pushes against the roof, allowing lips to seal and teeth to remain slightly parted. Not only does this help prevent the crowding of teeth by gently expanding the palate, but it can also help keep sinuses clear and help prevent issues like chronic snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Poor Tongue Positioning
Poor tongue positioning is any position that pushes against the top or bottom teeth. It is a common risk factor for TMJ, a painful and limiting neuromuscular condition that can be very difficult to treat.
The most common improper posture is resting at the bottom of the mouth where the tongue can press against lower teeth, gradually pushing them – and the jaw – forward. In addition to crowded teeth and bite issues, this may result in problems such as:
- A long and flat facial appearance
- Neck, shoulder, and back tension
- Forward thrust of the head
- Difficulties swallowing
In some people, the tongue rests on the upper arch of teeth. This can cause gaps and spaces, malocclusion, and problems including:
If you struggle with any of these issues, Houston dentist Dr. Ronald Konig can help. Utilizing the safest and most effective treatment options, Dr. Konig has assisted countless men and women correct improper tongue positioning and similar issues to help improve facial structure, restore comfort, and prevent the common oral health and beauty issues related to poor tongue posture.
Just like your standing posture, poor tongue posture can be corrected through exercises and other treatments. Myofunctional Therapy is a combination of complementary treatments designed to address poor tongue position and the issues it can cause. Depending on your specific needs, this treatment may include tongue exercises and similar techniques that help enhance awareness of tongue positioning and improve the function of the tongue muscles. In some cases, orthodontic treatment is used as well to help restore the bite to its proper position while retraining the tongue to rest in its most ideal location.
During your initial consultation, Dr. Konig will carefully assess your tongue, teeth, and jaw to determine which approach will be best for your needs.
Named the Best TMJ Dentist in Houston, Dr. Konig is a highly trained and accredited dentist with decades of experience. Trusted by his patients and respected by his peers, Dr. Konig has established himself as one of Houston’s preeminent dental professionals by utilizing incredibly effective and advanced techniques and taking a personal approach to every treatment. If you are struggling with chronic pain, an uneven bite, or any other oral health or beauty issue, Dr. Konig can help. Call our office at 713-668-2289 today to schedule a consultation and learn how.
The Konig Center for Cosmetic & Comprehensive Dentistry is located in Houston, Texas. Ronald W. Konig, DDS, FAGD, LVIF, FIAPA welcomes patients from The Woodlands, Katy, Galveston, Sugar Land, Baytown, and all nearby communities.