The Importance of Correct Tongue Position



July 8, 2015
Correct tongue position is extremely important in facial growth and development. It not only impacts on the esthetics of the smile, but also can cause problems with speech and chewing. While growing and throughout life, it is important for the tongue to be placed up against the roof of the mouth behind the upper front teeth all day and night, except when talking or chewing (see diagram below). When the tongue is in the “letter n” position, the back teeth should not be touching. Alternatively, when the tongue rests lower against the front teeth, it generally causes the roof of the mouth to grow in a more narrow fashion, contributing to a back cross-bite. At the same time, the tongue can cause the front teeth not to overlap in the proper fashion (open bite). Speech and function are largely affected by front tooth position. Certain letters need the front teeth to properly touch in order to make speech clear. Biting into thin foods with the front teeth can also be challenging when the front teeth do not touch. A back cross-bite causes premature wear on the back molar teeth, often sending unbalanced bite forces through the teeth and setting up future gum and bone loss in these areas.

Letter “N” position – Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth directly behind your front teeth without pressing against your teeth and close your lips together, keeping your teeth separated. This is how you should position your jaw all day! Your teeth should never touch one another unless you are chewing, otherwise you are clenching.

TIP: Place reminders in areas that you frequent to remind yourself to maintain the N-position.