Everyone has an “oral 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.
Everyone’s oral resting posture is not the same, but there are commonalities. Some positions are more desirable than others, and not only can they alter our appearance, they can contribute to altering our oral functions.
The general positions are: The lips are closed, the tongue is up, and the jaw is gently relaxed. More specifically, it includes:
--Uniform Labial Closure: The lip muscles must exert enough energy to close the lips and keep them closed; this requires lip muscle endurance.
--Tongue Contact on Top: The front-tongue and mid-tongue elevate within the upper dental arch. The front-tongue rests on the alveolar ridge and perhaps the anterior portion of the hard palate. The tongue is not “curled” (like for an /l/) but is in more of a humped-up contour. The tongue-sides contact the insides of the top, back teeth.
--A Jaw that is Gently Parted: The jaw is lowered slightly. The space between the teeth ideally measures somewhere between 1 to 3 mm’s.
This is the central position of the resting posture target and the one we aim for in therapy. If you compare your own oral resting posture with the above description, it may be the same, or similar. 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 desirable as is a gently lowered jaw. It’s never appropriate to clench teeth during rest.