Open Mouth Posture: Causes & How to Fix It

Do you or someone you know habitually keep their mouth open during the day or while sleeping? This may be a sign of open mouth posture, a condition that affects oral health and can even impact one’s facial aesthetics. 
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Open Mouth Posture: Causes & How to Fix It
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Do you or someone you know habitually keep their mouth open during the day or while sleeping? This may be a sign of open mouth posture, a condition that affects oral health and can even impact one’s facial aesthetics. 

That’s not all. 

From bad breath to malocclusion, open mouth posture can negatively impact your quality of life.

In this article, we'll explore:

  • What is open mouth posture
  • What causes open mouth posture 
  • How it affects your oral health
  • What it takes to fix open mouth posture 

We'll also discuss the importance of a proper mouth resting posture and how it can help improve your breathing and enhance your facial appearance.  

Let's get you moving and begin with what actually open mouth posture is. 

What is Open Mouth Posture?

open mouth posture
open mouth posture

Open mouth posture is a condition in which an individual tends to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose, even when they are not physically exerting themselves. This can occur during the day and at night while sleeping.

When your mouth is not engaged in eating, drinking, or speaking, it's important for it to rest in a proper position. Improper resting position or open mouth rest posture can lead to irregularities in the development of the mouth, lips, and jaw area. 

If you experience such issues, it's recommended to seek a orofacial myofunctional therapy to address the problem.

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Open mouth resting posture is common in children and adults who have not received treatment to fix it in childhood. 

Luckily enough, orofacial myology can effectively treat this condition. 

While it’s important to recognize the symptoms and seek appropriate help for yourself or your child, here are some signs to watch out for:

Correct resting position for the mouth:

  • Mouth closed with lips naturally sealed without any tension.
  • Breathing in and out through the nose.
  • The tongue is relaxed and resting on the roof of the mouth, but not pressing against the front teeth.

Signs for improper resting mouth position:

  • Mouth is frequently open at rest.
  • Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose.
  • Tongue protruding outside the mouth.
  • Tongue pushing against the front teeth.
  • Lower jaw hangs forward when at rest.

Open Mouth During the Day

It's quite common for some people to not realize that they breathe through their mouths during the day. Some of the common reasons for open mouth posture during the day include:

  • nasal congestion 
  • blockage
  • poor breathing habits. 

It's recommended to pay attention to your breathing and try to breathe through your nose as much as possible.

Open Mouth While Sleeping

Open mouth posture during sleep is a prevalent problem that can result in:

If you experience a dry mouth, a sore throat, or feel exhausted despite getting a full night's rest, it can be due to open mouth posture while sleeping.

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What Causes Open Mouth Posture?

Open mouth posture can have several underlying causes, including:

1. Nasal Congestion

When your nasal passages are blocked, you may find it difficult to breathe through your nose, which can force you to breathe through your mouth. Nasal congestion can be caused by allergies, sinus infections, or other respiratory conditions.

2. Enlarged Tonsils or Adenoids

Enlarged tonsils or adenoids can obstruct your airway, making it harder to breathe through your nose. This can lead to mouth breathing and open mouth posture.

3. Poor Posture

Bad posture can also contribute to an open mouth posture. When you slouch or hunch forward, it can cause your head to tilt forward, which can make it harder to breathe through your nose.

4. Habitual Mouth Breathing

Sometimes, open mouth posture is simply a bad habit that's developed over time. Mouth breathing can feel more comfortable or natural to some people. But it’s important to reconsider this habit to better up your physical health. 

If you or someone you know is an open mouth breather, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks associated with this mouth resting posture.

Risks Associated With Being An Open Mouth Breather

Open-mouth breathing can lead to several risks and complications, particularly in children. 

It's crucial to have a closer look at these potential issues and take the necessary steps to prevent them.

1. Dental Problems: 

If your child breathes through their mouth frequently, their tongue tends to push forward, potentially impacting their dentition over time. This could lead to changes in their palate and front teeth, affecting their dental health.

2. Aesthetic Issues: 

Mouth breathing can also raise aesthetics problems. One common issue that arises is known as the "mouth breathing face" or "long face syndrome." This happens when the mouth is left open for extended periods, leading to changes in facial structure and growth patterns. The face can become longer and narrower, and the position of the teeth can also be affected.

3. Speech/Sound Issues:

Articulators such as lips, teeth, and tongue are essential for producing speech sounds effectively. However, if your child habitually breathes through their open mouth, their lips may be constantly apart, making it harder for them to produce specific sounds correctly. Furthermore, their tongue may move forward naturally, causing speech to sound slurred or lispy.

4. Chronic Respiratory Problems:

According to a study, incessant mouth breathing can lead to chronic respiratory problems. Breathing through both the nose and mouth is a natural way for our body to eliminate toxins and maintain respiratory health. 

5. Gum Issues: 

Our mouths require moisture to ward off certain bacteria that could cause infections or other issues. However, constant mouth breathing can dry out the mouth, leading to inflamed, red, or swollen gums, especially in children who are open-mouth breathers. 

6. Overall Bad Posture:

Besides respiratory and oral health concerns, open-mouth breathing can also cause poor posture, especially in children. 

When breathing through the mouth, children may need to overcompensate by adjusting their body positioning, including their neck, jaw, and back. This can have a ripple effect on their overall posture, leading to issues such as rounded shoulders, a forward chin, and a hyper-extended neck. 

You can try a simple experiment to prevent bad posture:

  • Slump your shoulders forward,
  • Stick out your chin and neck, and 
  • Lift your eyes to midline by hyper-extending your neck. 

Mouth Breathing & How It Causes Malocclusion

Mouth breathing is a common problem that affects many people of all ages. While it may seem like a minor issue, chronic mouth breathing can lead to serious dental problems, including malocclusion. 

Malocclusion is a condition where the teeth do not fit together correctly when the mouth is closed, leading to misalignment, improper bite, and jaw pain.

Mouth breathing can contribute to malocclusion in several ways. 

  • When we breathe through our mouth, our tongue tends to fall forward, which can cause the upper teeth to move forward and the lower teeth to move back, resulting in an open bite. 
  • Additionally, the pressure from breathing through the mouth can also cause the palate to narrow, which can further exacerbate dental issues.

Children who habitually breathe through their mouths are particularly susceptible to developing malocclusion. 

The growing bones in their jaws and face are more malleable than those of adults, making them more susceptible to dental changes. Treating malocclusion caused by mouth breathing involves a multi-faceted approach:

1. Orthodontic treatment
2. Breathing exercises
3. Addressing underlying medical conditions

An experienced dental professional can help identify the root cause of the malocclusion and develop a personalized treatment plan for your individual needs.

As mouth breathing can cause malocclusion, which can lead to improper tongue posture, understanding what tongue posture is and how it relates to oral health is essential.

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What is Tongue Posture?

In orthotropics, tongue posture refers to the position of the tongue during rest periods, such as when the mouth is not actively engaged in activities like speaking or eating. 

Essentially, it refers to the natural position of the tongue when it is not performing any particular function.

What is Proper Tongue Posture?

proper tongue placement
proper tongue placement

Proper tongue posture involves resting the tongue on the roof of the mouth, just behind the front teeth. 

This position helps to support the upper jaw and promote proper breathing.

According to Dr. Ron Baise, a dentist at 92 Dental in London, the proper tongue posture during rest involves positioning the tongue against the roof of the mouth, with the front tip resting about half an inch above the front teeth, rather than touching the bottom of the mouth. 

Moreover, resting the tongue against the hard palate behind the front teeth can offer some potential benefits.

Why is Correct Tongue Resting Position So Important?

One of the primary benefits of good tongue posture is that it can help improve the alignment of your teeth

When your tongue is not in the correct position, it can obstruct the growth of teeth, leading to misalignment and crowding. 

By adopting the ideal tongue resting position which is – your tongue resting against the roof of your mouth, you can encourage your upper jaw to widen, providing ample space for your teeth to grow and preventing crowding.

Besides improved dental alignment, studies suggest that proper tongue posture can also lead to a wider palate and a more open upper airway. 

This can be particularly beneficial for children and young adults who may be at risk for sleep apnea or other respiratory issues. By widening the palate, tongue posture can help to reduce nasal obstruction and promote better breathing.

Besides offering numerous health benefits, improving tongue posture can also enhance your facial aesthetics. 

Proper tongue posture leads to a more defined jawline, reduced appearance of a double chin, and a leaner-looking face. Additionally, less crowded teeth and a closed mouth are also considered more visually appealing. 

Sums up, maintaining a proper tongue posture can help you achieve a more attractive jawline, a slimmer face, and greater confidence in your appearance.

A quick rundown to why tongue posture matters so much for your dental and facial well-being:

  • Tongue is the strongest muscle in the mouth, and its position plays a crucial role in shaping the face and jawline. 
  • When the tongue is properly positioned on the roof of the mouth, it creates a closed mouth posture, which ensures that the upper and lower jaws are in contact. 
  • This action encourages the upper jaw to widen, resulting in a more symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing facial structure.

Conversely, when the tongue is not in the correct position, such as when it hangs down or rests against the teeth, it can cause the face to droop and the upper jaw to narrow. This can lead to a variety of dental and orthodontic issues, including overcrowding and misalignment.

How Does Tongue Posture Influence Facial Aesthetics?

Improving tongue posture will reduce double chin
Improving tongue posture will reduce double chin

Maintaining proper tongue posture is essential for achieving optimal facial aesthetics and preventing an open mouth breather face. 

When the tongue is not resting in its natural position on the roof of the mouth, it can have negative consequences on the face

Improper tongue position can cause the chin to droop and pull the jaw joints out of alignment, resulting in a flat nose and a longer-looking face with a recessed chin and jawline. 

That’s not all.

Improper tongue posture can also lead to a narrow mouth, a gummy smile, and even crowding of the teeth, all of which contribute to an open mouth breather face. 

These aesthetic issues can also have functional consequences, such as improper muscle function in the face and jaw, leading to:

On the other hand, proper tongue posture can promote forward facial growth, which is more aesthetically pleasing and can prevent an open mouth breather face

What Causes Incorrect Tongue Posture?

When it comes to incorrect tongue posture, mouth breathing is often the culprit. 

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to open mouth breathing, including:

  • Open mouth breathing 
  • Allergies
  • Nasal congestion
  • Certain habits like thumb sucking

Moreover, lower intake of tough, chewy foods can also lead to incorrect tongue posture by weakening the jaw muscles. 

Signs Your Tongue Posture is Causing Problems

You may not have given much thought to how your tongue sits in your mouth, but improper tongue posture can actually cause a variety of health problems

Here are some signs that your tongue posture may be causing issues:

1. Speech impediments: 

If you struggle to pronounce certain words or sounds, it could be due to poor tongue posture. 

2. Snoring and sleep apnea: 

The position of your tongue can actually impact your breathing during sleep. Poor tongue posture can contribute to snoring and even sleep apnea, a serious condition where breathing stops and starts during sleep.

3. Tooth grinding: 

Grinding your teeth at night is often a sign of stress, but it can also be related to tongue posture. When the tongue isn't in the correct position, it can cause tension in the jaw that leads to teeth grinding.

4. Tongue thrust: 

Tongue thrust is a condition where the tongue pushes forward during swallowing. This can cause misaligned teeth and issues with speech.

5. Mouth breathing: 

If you find yourself breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, it could be due to poor tongue posture. Mouth breathing can cause bad breath and increase the risk of sleep disorders and even symptoms similar to ADHD.

If you're experiencing any of these issues, it may be worth exploring tongue posture exercises or talking to a healthcare professional to see if there's an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. 

So, how about you take a moment to check in with your tongue and make sure it's in the right position? Your health may depend on it!

How to Fix Open Mouth Posture?

One of the most effective ways to fix open mouth posture is through myofunctional therapy, which involves a series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and face. 

Myofunctional therapy can help to correct tongue posture, promote proper breathing, and prevent dental and orthodontic issues.

However, here are some health-friendly measures to work around open mouth posture issue:

1. Practice Good Posture

Maintaining good posture can help improve your breathing and prevent open mouth posture. Make sure you sit up straight, keep your shoulders back, and lift your chin slightly.

2. Clear Nasal Congestion

If you have nasal congestion, try using a nasal spray or a saline rinse to clear your nasal passages. You can also speak with your doctor about allergies or sinus medications that can help alleviate congestion.

3. Consider Tonsillectomy or Adenoidectomy

If your open mouth posture is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.

4. Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises can also help improve your breathing patterns and reduce open mouth posture. Try inhaling deeply through your nose, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then exhaling slowly through your mouth.

5. Practice Proper Tongue Posture

Correct tongue posture is key to fixing open mouth posture. Your tongue should be resting against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Try practicing this position throughout the day, and especially when you're sleeping.

Mewing Tongue Posture Technique:

Dr. Mike Mew, a renowned orthodontist, has popularized the "mewing" technique for improving tongue posture. 

Mewing involves placing the tip of your tongue against the hard palate, just behind your front teeth, and using suction to pull the rest of your tongue against the roof of your mouth. 

This can help train your tongue to stay in the correct position and promote nasal breathing. 

Remember to practice this technique throughout the day, especially when you're sleeping. 

With consistent practice, you can improve your tongue posture and reduce open mouth posture.

Download the Mewing App now and start perfecting your tongue posture for a more defined jawline, overall improved oral health, and facial aesthetics.

The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or a substitute for professional guidance. Mewing and other techniques mentioned on this website may not be suitable for everyone, and individual results may vary. We strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional, such as an orthodontist, dentist, or myofunctional therapist, before starting any new oral or facial exercises, particularly if you have existing dental, orthodontic, or health concerns.
Written by
Yury Nebyshynets
March 13, 2023