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Open Mouth-Lips Apart Posture / Short Upper Lip

An orofacial variation that relates to the lips is an Open Mouth-Lips Apart resting posture. This is often referred to as lip Incompetence and can distract from a pleasing facial appearance. Most common is the Short (Arched) Upper Lip combined with a pouty fuller (large) lower lip causing the facial muscles to compensate and function incorrectly. In order to swallow, the lower lip must stretch up to meet the upper lip causing a facial grimace or button chin. A proper upper lip length should cover about three-quarters of the anterior teeth. The lip then becomes the gatekeeper by protecting the teeth from protruding forward. When the lower lip and chin (mentalis muscle) do most of the work during a swallow, they can push the teeth back or aid in protruding the top teeth. Adequate lip length and strength are important for the maintenance and guidance of teeth. Generally, an Open Mouth-Lips Apart contributes to a low forward tongue posture. Chronic mouth breathers tend to bring their head forward in front of their shoulders and tilted back to maintain an open airway (Forward Head Posture and Forward Shoulder Posture). Some call this a Long Jaw or Long Face Syndrome. People who have a combination of these OMD's should be evaluated by their orthodontist or a certified orofacial myologist. Therapy promotes and facilitates proper tongue placement, lip closure and breathing through the nose which enhance overall posture of the face, mouth and body.

Not all Open Mouth Postures are Mouth Breathers

Allergies, upper respiratory infections, nasal airway obstruction, enlarged tonsils or adenoids can cause a person to breathe through their mouth. An airway obstruction must be identified, diagnosed, and evaluated prior to therapy. A recommendation to see an Otolaryngologist (ears, nose and throat specialist) or an Allergist is necessary. If there is no obstruction, many times the problem is a habit that has been acquired over time. A thorough evaluation and case history are needed to determine the causes of the open mouth breathing. Sometimes a simple thing like teaching a child to properly blow their nose can make a huge difference in the way they breathe. Therapy and positive reinforcement can be the motivator to eliminate poor oral habits for children and adults.

Do a Quick Check on your Tongue...

Stick out your tongue as far as you can.

  • Does your tongue form a point? Good.
  • Does it seem to form a heart-shape?
  • Can it touch behind the front teeth when the mouth is wide open? If not, you may have a short lingual frenum. In some cases a frenectomy is necessary.

Ankyloglossia or Tongue-tie usually shows signs of these symptoms. The tissue that goes from the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth (Lingual Frenum) is too short or tight to allow the tongue to rest up in the palate. Hence, the tongue habitually lies low and forward.





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