I have a confession to make… I have “roof of mouth disease.” Now, you may have never heard of roof of mouth disease, but that’s only because I made up the term; I didn’t, however, make up the condition. Roof of mouth disease is my term for the condition of always having your tongue plastered to the roof of your mouth. It usually starts off as a stress response but over time can become habitual.
Most people who clench or grind their teeth also have roof of mouth disease but their clenching and grinding gets all the attention. If you clench or grind your teeth, you may believe that once you stop clenching, your tongue will naturally relax, too. Not necessarily so! Remember, your tongue is a muscle. Clenching and grinding are either improved or resolved when the jaw muscles are released and stress management techniques put in place to deal with stress in a more effective way. But most of those techniques don’t deal with the tongue.
My roof of mouth disease is a lot better than it used to be, especially when I consider that I used to clench my teeth all the time. Now I only clench during periods of high stress, and then only while I’m sleeping. My mindfulness practice keeps me from clenching during the day. My tongue, however, remains near or on the roof of my mouth most of the time. I’m using my stress management techniques, including mindfulness and meditation, to slowly improve my “condition.” You can too.
Start with a mindful check-in several times a day to see if your tongue is plastered to the roof of your mouth, resting comfortably in your lower jaw, or if it’s somewhere in between. Leave yourself reminders so you don’t forget – set an alert (or several) on your phone, in your outlook, put a sticky note on your computer, place a note on your steering wheel – be creative with the ways you remind yourself to check-in. Notice if you have more stress when your tongue is plastered to the roof of your mouth than when it’s resting in your lower jaw. After you do this for a while, it’ll become habit and you won’t need the reminders anymore.
If you do have roof of mouth disease, here’s a simple mindfulness breathing technique you can use to not only help make you aware of the tension but to also release it. The beauty of this is that it can be done anywhere.
Remember, this is just one technique; it’s not intended to be a miracle cure for everyone (there’s no such thing anyway). It helped me. It’s helped many of my clients. Maybe it’ll help you, too.
So tell me, do you have roof of mouth disease? Do you also clench or grind? Are you a former clencher/grinder whose tongue didn’t relax with the rest of their mouth? Do you have a suggestion for other roof of mouth sufferers that worked for you. Share your thoughts with me. And while you’re in sharing mode, why not share this post, too.