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Char Boshart, M.A., CCC-SLP

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          What Does YOUR Mouth do When it's Doing Nothing?

Everyone’s mouth rests in between talking; therefore, everyone has a “mouth resting posture.”  It’s where your lips, tongue, and jaw rest when you’re not eating, drinking, or talking.  The lips, tongue, and jaw automatically go to their resting locations and maintain those positions throughout the day and night.  

Your mouth resting posture helps your swallowing and speech.  Here’s why: 

Wherever your lips, tongue, and jaw rest, is where they work. 

Everyone’s mouth resting posture is not the same, but there are commonalities.  Some positions are more helpful than others.  The undesirable positions can alter your appearance and the way you swallow and speak.  Not good!

The good positions are, Lips are closed, Tongue is up, and the Jaw is gently relaxed.   

  • Your Lips are Completely and Comfortably Closed:  The lip muscles must exert enough energy to close the lips and keep them closed; this requires lip muscle endurance. 
  • Your Tongue Touches the Top (but not completely):  The front-tongue and mid-tongue elevate within the upper arch.  The front-tongue rests on the alveolar ridge (the bumpy part behind your front teeth) and part of the front of your hard palate.  The tongue is not “curled” (like an /l/) but is in more of a humped-up shape.  The tongue-sides contact the insides of the top, back teeth.
  • Your Jaw is Gently Parted:  It’s lowered slightly, and the space between the top and bottom teeth measures between 1 to 3 mms.

This is the central position and the one you’ll aim for in therapy.  If you compare your own mouth resting posture with the above description, it may be the same, or similar, or completely different.  It’s normal to discover minor deviations, usually pertaining to the position of the tongue.  It may be more forward or more back.  Regarding lips, however, closed lips are always best as is a gently lowered jaw.  It’s never appropriate to clench teeth during rest. 

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