The tongue position at rest can have consequences on the growth of bones or teeth, and on the functioning of the respiratory tracts.
Tongue is said to be at rest when a person does not swallow or is not speaking. The impact of the position of the tongue at rest is significant. The tongue is in a good resting position when its tip is in contact with the apex area of the palate just behind the maxillary incisors and the teeth are almost joined. The tongue contours are placed around the palate, along the upper molars. The centre of the tongue is flat and supple.
Studies have shown that the resting tongue permanently exerts a force of a few grams on its oral environment. Incredibly, this permanently applied force is enough to move a tooth, disturb its eruption or deform the bones that carry it.
In the same way that the wind, with time, shapes mountains, the tongue helps to shape the mouth and face! A good position of the tongue in inactivity is therefore essential.
When the tongue has a poor rest position, it does not shape the palate in width. The palate, face and jaws are narrow, leaving insufficient space for the teeth to position properly.
Here are several examples of poor resting tongue positions and their consequences:
- The tongue is in a low position and its tip is supported on the lower incisors. This is a position that can lead to growth of the mandible (or lower jaw) that becomes too advanced compared to the upper jaw. This is called lower prognathy.
- The tongue is placed between the teeth, in front and/or on the sides, permanently or always in the spaces left by a fallen baby tooth. The continuous action of the tongue will inhibit the exit of the teeth (which then grow into the bone) and prevent their correct occlusion.
- The dome of the tongue presses upwards and backwards on the palate and the tip of the tongue is low. This position of the tongue, which will seek a support point from the back of the tongue at the back of the palate with a counter-support of the tip in the mandible, is abnormal. The tongue will deepen the palate, relax the soft palate, reduce the size of the airways and even obstruct breathing. This can then cause snoring, or even worsen in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSA).
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