What is the correct tongue rest position?
A user question
A user question
Correct tongue tension, tongue posture and tongue movement play an important role in various health problems. The term “tongue rest position” is often used to describe the position of the tongue. This refers to moments of tongue inactivity when the tongue is not performing any functional movements and is “resting”.
Ideally, the tip of the tongue should be directed towards the anterior upper palate and the lateral edges of the tongue should rest against the inner gums of the upper jaw. The centre of the tongue forms a shallow bowl shape. However, the idea of such a precise posture can hardly be fulfilled. The lower jaw and tongue are fused together and as moving body parts their position changes due to natural gravitational forces. These are dependent on the constant small and large movements of the head.
Since there is no “head rest position”, there is also no “tongue rest position”. The term arouses a false understanding and leads to irritation! It is not the posture, but the shape of the tongue, which is formed by the correct basic tension of the tongue muscles and the additional formation of negative pressure in the mouth/throat, that ensures the individually adapted varied position of the tongue.
Due to false assumptions about the mechanisms that actually work to “adjust the tongue”, many tongue training methods have a wrong orientation. Tongue problems are often made worse by them and positive treatment results are prevented. In the video, these correlations are plausibly explained and consequences for specific treatments are discussed.
I bought the FaceFormer a few years ago. Now my complaints, heavy snoring and breathing stops are getting worse, especially in the supine position, although I am not overweight and drink almost no alcohol. That’s why I now want to consistently do the exercises you suggested. I have a question about the tongue position:
According to your drawings, I would assume that only the tip of the tongue should touch the palate just behind the teeth. But according to other websites, I suspect that the tongue should also touch the front part of the palatal arch, or even more, depending on the website. See here, for example.
In your pictures, the tongue tends to go downwards from the tip to the back. If it is supposed to rest against the palate, it should go more upwards. What is correct now?
Your comment is apt. Of course I am very familiar with Myofunctional Therapy and the tongue rest position described by various authors. I was chairman of the former scientific MFT e.V. for many years, wrote several professional articles about the method many years ago and published a book.
For more than 40 years, we have come across the term “tongue rest position” in medical literature. This refers to the posture and positioning of the tongue in moments of rest. However, the tongue is part of a dynamic movement system in which a state of rest – at least in living humans – never occurs. Controlling processes of the nervous system, stimulus-reactive and gravitational effects on the inner and outer tongue muscles, the lower jaw, the floor of the mouth and likewise the respiratory airflow, vary the tongue position constantly. The frequently recited term “tongue rest position” is therefore associated with a misleading assumption. It is supported by the fact that most authors excel in precisely describing an invariant resting static of the tongue. However, there is no such thing as a static position of the tongue. Rather, there are many, constantly varying postures that are always adapted in a well-functioning tongue and set a correct tongue tension. From a scientific point of view, neither the traditional terminology nor the descriptions of a tongue posture that is declared to be at rest are justifiable. We therefore place the form-giving tongue tension in the foreground of our considerations.
The tension of the inner and outer tongue muscles plays a central role in tongue dynamics. The assessment of the correct state of tension, which we call “physiological tongue tension”, is of particular importance for the diagnosis (classification into hypotonic, eutonic, hypertonic). Only the correct tension and harmonious coordination of these muscles specify the individual and varying form and function of the tongue. Incorrect tension of the muscles causes floppy tongues (hypotonic) and/or tongue dyskinesia (hypotonic or hypertonic). Eutonic tongues, on the other hand, have a harmonious basic tension and determine the physiological tongue shape and tongue function. Other influences to be considered are the formation of negative pressure in the mouth and throat and the reactions to nerve impulses. All of these together are a prerequisite for tongue tension and tongue kinetics in all functional areas: Coordinated muscle function of the soft palate, mouth and pharynx, ear ventilation, chewing, swallowing, linguistic articulation.
Tongue tension can only be corrected through exercise treatment. When the mouth is closed and even when sleeping, the tongue retains its tension. It adjusts to movements and shapes the tongue like a small bowl. The tip and edges of the tongue are directed against the palate, or the alveolar processes (part of the jawbone with dental compartments and gums) of the upper jaw.
It would require an extensive treatise to adequately explain the tongue functions and their effects. Such extensions of content are of little use for a successful therapy implementation and mainly serve experts to understand theoretical connections. At this point we therefore refrain from further explanations.
For the FaceFormer exercise treatment we need a precise description that is understandable for everyone. We explain the tongue tip position as the starting position for the exercises in such a way that it can be easily realised. With the punctual orientation, the tongue adjusts to a pattern that eutonic tongues perform when swallowing. In this manoeuvre, the tongue also centres the lower jaw and bite block, regardless of its initial position.
Proper tongue posture
Wrong tongue posture
As the FaceFormer training is extended over time, the tension, shape and function of the tongue improve and swallowing movements become increasingly positively coordinated.
Various exercises are recommended by practitioners to counteract faulty tongue tension. However, caution is advised with many of them because they disturb the complicated coordination of the form-giving tongue muscles and thus further worsen tongue tension and tongue movement: Typical examples of incorrect tongue exercises are: Tongue pressing against a spatula, tongue training with rubber or tongue dumbbells.
A prerequisite for correct, biological tongue tension and tongue movement is coordinated inner and outer tongue musculature. It goes hand in hand with complicated, precise movement patterns, such as chewing, swallowing, speaking. Incorrect tensions can only be corrected through exercise therapies that take such patterns into account. To do this, exercises must not stray too far from the specific range of motion of the patterns. With the FaceFormer training, this is taken into account for the first time.
FaceFormer users concentrate on the described positioning of the tip of the tongue during the exercises. We describe this in the exercise instructions for FaceFormer therapy and it can be done spontaneously. The tip of the tongue thus positions itself at an important pivot point from which it initiates muscle chain functions for the mouth and throat as well as for centring the lower jaw and occlusion. With the start of FaceFormer therapy, tongue tension, tongue shape and tongue movements develop correctly – depending on the FaceFormer exercise frequency.
If the tip of the tongue cannot be directed towards the upper jaw at the beginning, which is the case with smaller children or a lack of sensitivity on the part of the user, the correct tongue tension is nevertheless established. However, the training time is extended by a few weeks.
Through regular practice with the FaceFormer, an increase in sensitivity and tension of the tongue is noticed after a short time.
Die Zungenspitze ist nach oben gerichtet. Sie liegt wenige Millimeter hinter den oberen Schneidezähnen am Gaumen an. Die Zungenspitze fühlt hier eine kleine Aufwölbung. Sie berührt die Zähne nicht. Diese natürliche Haltung muss zur Gewohnheit werden.
I have been practising regularly with the FACEFORMER since 28.03.2019. However, the snoring has unfortunately not changed significantly; at least according to the snoring app. How it behaves with breathing pauses cannot be assessed with the snoring app. I have a relatively narrow pharyngeal anatomy and have snored since I was an adolescent. So it will probably be difficult to get away from snoring altogether. It would be good if there were no breathing pauses.
Next Thursday I have an appointment at the sleep lab for a sleep screening. I hope to avoid a CPAP mask. I think the tongue position has already improved. I am also consciously trying to pay attention to proper tongue posture. Under the tongue it felt empty and almost cold and painful. In the meantime, that has improved.
Due to the frequent search for the right tongue position, the oral mucosa became somewhat irritated. But that has also improved in the meantime. In between, I also do other exercises to strengthen the tongue and throat muscles, such as circling the tongue in the front of the mouth. I have also worn the FACEFORMER overnight without spitting it out. But even with it, the snoring behaviour is not better, at least according to the snoring app. In addition, the FACEFORMER is uncomfortable for me at night. It does seal the mouth, so that mouth breathing is prevented, but the lips are pressed apart. In addition, one of my incisors consists of a crown. The FACEFORMER presses on it, which causes pain in the long run. That’s why I don’t wear the FACEFORMER at night.
There are of course anatomical differences in the mouth and throat, e.g. narrow passages. Often they are caused by the fact that important growth stimuli were missing in early childhood. A typical example would be mouth breathing, which dissolves the important negative pressure space in the mouth, which is extremely important for the transversal growth of the jaws.
You mention a crowned, protruding incisor that receives pressure from the FF membrane, the after-effects of which you feel in the morning. This indicates that the teeth had and have considerable positional deviations (crooked teeth). The crown merely concealed this somewhat. It is usually caused by constant tongue pressure against the front teeth, which accompanies every swallowing movement. The teeth must be relieved by a correct tongue rest position and correct movement of the tongue during swallowing. We adjust both with the FACEFORMER therapy: The tooth receives pressure until it is inserted into the tooth row and the tongue no longer exerts harmful pressure on the teeth from the inside. Only when this has been achieved do you no longer feel any pressure. Orthodontics also corrects the teeth with such pressure. However, it can never be as well distributed as with FACEFORMER therapy. In addition, the cause, the tongue pressure against the teeth, remains. This is exactly what leads to the teeth very often becoming crooked again after orthodontics.
We can only marginally influence the grown narrow throat space. However, we do manage the most important things, the tension of muscles and tissues in the mouth/throat, nasal breathing and the adjustment of correct movements in the mouth/throat. CPAP cannot do all this. It blows slack tissue to the side in order to clear the airways. But this can only work during immediate use of the device. Without the device, the next day you have your old problem again. You keep it for the rest of your life. It even gets progressively worse because you get used to a “crutch” and constantly make the organism’s “work” easier.
Once you end up in the sleep lab, you usually don’t escape CPAP care. You will be offered horrific scenarios. Their fear, generated by this, will make you bend. Most patients believe the so-called experts. Experts and completely forget that you are entering into a purely symptomatic treatment, which will never eliminate the causes. For a realistic assessment of CPAP therapy, please read my comment on an article from the Ärzteblatt:
How effective is CPAP – Real help or eternal crutch therapy?
It goes without saying that the FACEFORMER exercises cause noticeable changes, even under, on the tongue or elsewhere. After all, you are changing long-time habitual, wrong movement patterns and replacing them with biologically correct ones. The wrong thing remains more comfortable for you for a long time in this process because you are so used to it. Only when the correction has stabilised and become automatic will the biologically correct one be much more pleasant for you.
Please concentrate exclusively on the exercises with the FACEFORMER and try to do them consistently and correctly.
Refrain from all other exercises with the tongue. They very often lead to the tongue being diverted from the function it has so laboriously acquired. Even if success takes a longer time due to your anatomically narrowed airways, the FACEFORMER therapy is the only real help that brings out physiological functions as well as possible.
The effective solution for snoring, sleep apnea, CMD, jaw problems and many other indications. Simple, causal, effective.
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