I was at the Pennsylvania Dental Hygienists’ Association Keystone Dental Health Conference this past weekend. I was able to listen to Angie Lehman, RDH, COM®, owner of OMT of York. As presented in the course and the certification course I took, this field of study has been around for about 100 years. Even with what I have learned about oral rest posture so far, it still fascinates me at how important oral rest posture is in maintaining a great arch form on the palate so the tongue fits. I am learning this first hand, since I was tongue tied and my tongue hasn’t been resting in the proper place for the last 35 years of my life.
A healthy oral rest posture consists of having the lips gently closed, facial symmetry, nasal breathing, and tongue on the roof of the mouth. This will also help to maintain a great airway space because the roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose! It is important to have balance or as Dr. William R. Proffit, DDS coined the term ‘oral equilibrium’. By having balance, this allows someone to breathe and swallow correctly. We can live weeks without food, a few days without water, but on minutes without air.
If we aren’t breathing correctly overall health can be impacted. If the correct rest posture is not evaluated, this can impact facial growth and development and sleep. But facial growth and development has been impacted a lot by the softer diet we have as a society now, use of sippy cups, pouch foods, pacifiers, individuals being tongue tied and oral habits such as thumb/finger sucking habits. Mouth breathing also has a huge impact on this as well because not exchanging oxygen the way we should creates a longer looking face. When mouth breathing, this will usually make the tonsils larger, especially in children, which can then block the airway because the nose isn’t filtering what that person is breathing in. And I was reminded that most malocclusions are not genetic. Reason being that oral rest posture matters because out genes tell bone how to grow but muscles tell bone where to grow, therefore most malocclusions are not a genetic issue but rather a muscle issue. I love learning about orofacial myology!