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Does Your TONGUE Have Good Posture?

We talk about our body posture all the time! The importance of sitting up straight, how we sit when working on our computers, looking at our phones, etc! But did you know our tongue posture matters too?

I am guessing you've probably never given any thought to the position of your tongue, but proper tongue posture is so important. If your tongue isn't in the correct position, you could experience dental and orofacial problems. Let’s dive in!

Proper Tongue Posture

When your tongue is at rest, the tip of your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. (Try it now - what did you notice!?) 

Your speech therapists think a lot about tongue movement and posture, because so much of our speech sound placement is dependent on our tongue. I want you to say you /k/ sound - where did your tongue go? (I am hoping you said back!). Now let’s say your /s/ sound. Where did you feel your tongue go? 

Now let’s get even further with this! The position of our tongue also matters when we are eating and drinking! When we swallow, the tongue should be held against the roof of the mouth. Some children (and adults!) push their tongues forward through their teeth when they swallow, which is an improper tongue positioning known as a tongue thrust (ah yes - you probably have heard that term before - also commonly referred to as a lisp). 

Let’s reference the experts!  As the National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains, malocclusion means that the teeth aren't aligned properly. In the Radiology and Oncology study, children with poor tongue posture were reported to have a higher incidence of anterior open bite, a type of malocclusion where the front teeth don't touch when the mouth is shut. This may be because the tongue puts pressure on the teeth due to poor tongue posture.

Beyond the dental impacts, poor tongue posture can result in impact on our speech sounds, swallow function and airway. But the good news is, there is a way to treat it!

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a treatment that may help people learn the correct resting posture of the tongue. This treatment involves exercises that target the tongue and should be performed by a Speech Therapist who has training. 

So, just remember! It all goes back to posture. Just like slouching at your desk or in a chair isn't good for your back, holding your tongue in an incorrect position isn't good for your dental health, swallow function, airway and even speech sounds!  If you're concerned about your tongue posture, talk to your dentist or a myofunctional trained SLP!

Cindy Knighton, MS., CCC-SLP

Owner/SLP of Speech For Success, PLLC


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