Proper tongue position is one of the easiest things you can learn to reduce your clenching and the stress on your jaw. Remember your teeth should never touch unless you are swallowing. Most TMJ problems are caused due to excessive clenching of your teeth. Your teeth should ideally be apart at all times. To ensure your teeth are slightly apart, train yourself to not clench by being mindful of your tongue when resting.
What is the proper tongue position
The tongue should touch the roof of the mouth behind the top teeth. The easiest way to find this ideal tongue position is by saying the letter “N” and seeing where your tongue touches the roof of your mouth. Train your tongue to be there at all times to reduce your clenching.
Reducing your clenching will go a long way in ensuring your jaw muscles are nice and relaxed reducing the potential scope of trigger points.
Here is an image which shows the tongue position in relation to the front teeth
Tongue Positioning Exercises
You can help learn how to position your tongue using these exercises
- Start by feeling the back of all your front teeth with the tip of your tongue. Now slide the tip back to the flat area just behind your teeth, then to the bumpy, ridged area behind that.If you pay attention, the roof of mouth slopes off behind the ridged area into the cavity of the palate. It is just before the slope that your tongue should rest–in the most defined “ridge.” This is called “the spot.”
- The second exercise helps you find where the back of your tongue should rest. Start by making a big, cheesy grin and raise your eyebrows. Now, try to swallow while keeping your teeth clenched. This might be difficult, but if you do it successfully, you will feel the back of your tongue pressing against the roof of your mouth–This is where you want it to be.
To see results from both of these exercises, practice them several times throughout the day. If you do so, you should start to notice your muscle memory kicking-in and your tongue resting at the correct position by itself!