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Where should your tongue be naturally?

The position of the tongue at rest, also known as tongue posture, has become a popular topic in recent years. Some claim that proper tongue posture is critical for facial development and overall health. But where exactly should your tongue be when it’s at rest? Let’s take a closer look at this important question.

What is proper tongue posture?

Proper tongue posture refers to the position of the tongue when the mouth is closed and relaxed. Many experts believe the tongue should rest against the roof of the mouth, lightly suctioned upwards. This creates a light seal between the tongue and palate.

Some key benefits attributed to proper tongue posture include:

– Widening the palate over time, allowing room for teeth alignment
– Keeping airways open, improving breathing
– Engaging facial muscles, providing facial support
– Reducing risk of sleep apnea and snoring
– Supporting proper swallowing patterns

Proper tongue posture is sometimes referred to as “mewing” based on the teachings of Dr. John Mew. He advocated proper tongue posture for facial development. Proper tongue posture is also a key element of orthotropics, a branch of orthodontics focused on facial growth guidance.

Where should the tip of the tongue rest?

When proper tongue posture is observed, the tip of the tongue should rest on the roof of the mouth just behind the front teeth. More specifically, it should touch the soft tissue known as the alveolar ridge or gingiva.

This placement allows the entire tongue to suction against the palate. If the tip is too far forward or too far back, this seal is lost. The tongue essentially acts as a mold, gently pressing outward to widen the palate over time.

Should the tongue touch the front teeth?

It’s generally advised that the tip of the tongue NOT rest against the front teeth. Light pressure on the gingiva behind the front teeth is ideal.

Pressing the tongue against the teeth may promote an open bite over time. This is when a gap forms between the upper and lower front teeth when biting down fully. It can also lead to excessive spacing between the front teeth.

The gingiva provides a groove for the tongue to rest in. This keeps it stabilized behind the teeth, rather than pushing against them.

What about the back of the tongue?

As the tongue rests against the palate, the back portion should lift up towards the soft palate. A good cue is to think about widening the tongue so it fully fills the palatial vault.

If the back of the tongue is too low or collapsed, this compromises the seal against the palate. The tongue essentially acts as a mold, so maximum surface contact is ideal. This encourages upward and outward growth over time.

Should the tongue be forced against the palate?

Proper tongue posture should involve very light pressure from the tongue against the palate. The tongue shouldn’t be forcibly jammed upward. Instead, it should simply rest gently against the roof of the mouth.

Too much pressure can lead to discomfort, speech issues, open bites, and other problems. A good analogy is the amount of pressure used to hold a small piece of paper against the ceiling. Excessive force isn’t needed.

Over time, this light seal encourages the palate to widen naturally. Any changes occur slowly through consistent proper tongue posture.

What about when talking or swallowing?

When talking, eating, or swallowing, the tongue will need to move dynamically around the mouth. This is normal function.

The focus is on tongue posture when the mouth is at rest. Any time you are not talking or swallowing, aim to have proper tongue posture.

If tongue posture is maintained consistently throughout the day, this can still provide benefits even with temporary lapses during function.

How long until you see results?

Changing the tongue’s natural resting position takes consistency over time. Benefits occur gradually, not overnight.

It typically takes at least a few months before noticeable differences in the palate or teeth alignment occur. However, some report subtle facial changes in just weeks.

To see more dramatic changes in facial structure, maintaining proper oral posture for 1-2 years is ideal. This allows the constant upward force from the tongue to gradually alter growth patterns.

Proper tongue posture challenges

Transitioning to proper tongue posture can be difficult at first. Some challenges include:

  • Oral habits pulling the tongue forward or down
  • Speech difficulties
  • Excess saliva initially
  • Discomfort or fatigue in the tongue
  • Teeth feeling sensitive initially

These issues typically resolve within a few weeks as the tongue gets conditioned to its new position. Be patient and keep practicing proper posture.

Certain exercises can help re-train the tongue more quickly:

  • Saying “sing” to lift the back of the tongue
  • Swallowing while holding proper posture
  • Gently pressing the entire tongue to the palate while smiling

Who should avoid proper tongue posture?

Most people can benefit from proper tongue positioning. However, some circumstances where proper tongue posture may need to be avoided include:

  • Surgical changes to the jaw, palate, or tongue
  • Presence of speech impediments
  • Congenital disorders affecting oral structures
  • Pre-existing open bites or spacing issues
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders
  • Active orthodontic treatment

If any of these apply, consult your dentist or orthodontist before attempting to change tongue posture.

Supporting proper tongue posture

Proper tongue posture alone may not be enough to address more significant orthodontic issues. Supportive treatments and appliances may help reinforce proper positioning.

Some options include:

  • Palate expanders – widen the palate to make room for the tongue
  • Orthodontics – align crowded or mispositioned teeth
  • Myofunctional therapy – retrain poor oral habits
  • Chin straps – keep the mouth closed during sleep

Seeking treatment from a dentist knowledgeable in facial growth guidance can help. Poor facial structure, if not addressed, can worsen over time.

Proper swallowing pattern

Swallowing with proper tongue posture is also key. Many people develop poor swallowing habits with age.

Ideal swallowing pattern:

  • Tip of tongue presses gently behind top front teeth
  • Back of tongue lifts against the palate
  • Lips sealed
  • Swallow occurs with a light suction

Re-learning this pattern can be challenging. A speech therapist can help provide swallowing exercises and training.

Poor swallowing habits Proper swallowing pattern
Tongue thrust between teeth Tongue tip remains behind teeth
Lips open Lips sealed
Excessive cheek muscle tension Cheeks relaxed
No suction Light suction

Re-learning proper swallowing and tongue posture can be a challenging process requiring daily focus. But it encourages correct muscle patterns that support facial growth and development.


Proper tongue posture involves the tongue gently resting against the roof of the mouth. The tip rests just behind the front teeth while the back lifts towards the soft palate.

This allows the entire tongue to seal against the palate, encouraging upward and outward facial growth. It also keeps the airway open for proper breathing.

Transitioning to proper tongue posture requires consistency and patience over months and years. Supportive treatments and re-training habits can help the process.

With dedication to proper oral posture, improvements in facial development and alignment are possible without invasive procedures. But results require persistence in maintaining the tongue’s ideal natural resting position.