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How Should Teeth Rest When The Mouth is Closed?

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Teeth Rest When The Mouth Is Closed

When you think about oral health, you probably focus on brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups. But there’s another important factor: how your teeth rest when your mouth is closed. This seemingly minor detail can significantly impact your dental health in the long run.

Understanding the proper resting position of your teeth when your mouth is closed is crucial for maintaining good oral health, comfort, and overall well-being. Misalignment and improper resting positions can lead to a variety of dental issues, including tooth wear, jaw pain, and temporomandibular joint disorders. Here’s a comprehensive look at how teeth should rest when the mouth is closed and why it matters.

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An Ideal Resting Position

When your mouth is closed, your teeth should ideally rest in what is known as the “neutral position.” In this position:

  1. Upper and Lower Teeth Slightly Apart: Your upper and lower teeth should have a small space between them, often referred to as the “freeway space.” This gap is typically about 2-3 millimeters.
  2. Lips Closed, Jaw Relaxed: Your lips should be gently closed without any strain, and your jaw muscles should be relaxed. This helps prevent clenching and grinding.
  3. Tongue Against the Roof of the Mouth: Your tongue should rest against the roof of your mouth, just behind your upper front teeth. This position supports proper jaw alignment and breathing.

Why Proper Resting Position Matters

Maintaining the correct resting position of your teeth is important for several reasons:

  1. Prevents Tooth Wear and Damage: Continuous contact between the upper and lower teeth can lead to excessive wear, chipping, and damage. By keeping a slight gap, you minimize the risk of these issues.
  2. Reduces Jaw Strain and Pain: A proper resting position alleviates unnecessary tension in the jaw muscles and joints, reducing the risk of developing TMD. TMD can cause chronic pain, headaches, and difficulty in moving the jaw.
  3. Promotes Healthy Breathing: When the tongue rests against the roof of the mouth, it encourages nasal breathing. Nasal breathing is more beneficial than mouth breathing as it filters and humidifies the air, supports proper jaw development, and reduces the risk of dental problems like dry mouth and gum disease.

Signs of Improper Resting Position

If you find yourself clenching your jaw, grinding your teeth, or experiencing frequent headaches, it could be a sign your teeth aren’t resting properly. Additionally, if your lips are constantly strained closed, it might indicate misalignment.

Consulting Your Dentist

If you’re unsure about your resting position or experience any discomfort, consult your dentist. They can assess your bite, jaw alignment, and tongue posture to determine if there are any underlying issues.

Common Issues with Improper Resting Positions

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Persistent clenching and grinding, often occurring subconsciously, can lead to severe tooth wear, fractures, and muscle pain. Stress and anxiety are common triggers for bruxism.

Malocclusion (Misaligned Teeth): Misalignment can cause teeth to rest improperly. Overbites, underbites, and crossbites can lead to uneven pressure on the teeth and jaw, exacerbating wear and discomfort.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD): TMD encompasses various conditions affecting the jaw joints and muscles. Symptoms include jaw pain, clicking or popping sounds, and restricted movement. Improper teeth resting positions can aggravate these symptoms.

Tips to achieve the Ideal Resting Position

To ensure your teeth rest properly when your mouth is closed, consider the following tips:

  1. Be Mindful of Jaw Position: Periodically check your jaw position throughout the day. Ensure your teeth are not clenched and that your jaw is relaxed.
  2. Practice Good Posture: Poor posture can affect the alignment of your jaw. Keep your head aligned with your spine and avoid slouching.
  3. Manage Stress: Stress is a common cause of bruxism. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and regular exercise into your routine.
  4. Regular Dental Check-Ups: Visit your dentist regularly to monitor your oral health. They can identify and address any issues with your bite and recommend treatments such as night guards for bruxism.


Understanding and maintaining the proper resting position of your teeth is essential for preventing dental problems and promoting overall oral health. By keeping a small gap between your upper and lower teeth, ensuring your lips are closed and your jaw relaxed, and positioning your tongue against the roof of your mouth, you can achieve a healthy and comfortable resting position. Regular dental check-ups and mindfulness of your oral habits will further support your efforts to maintain optimal dental health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When my mouth is closed, should my teeth be touching?

Ideally, no. In a proper resting position, your teeth should be slightly apart, allowing your jaw muscles to relax.

Q. What role does stress play in teeth’ resting position?

Stress can lead to habits such as teeth grinding and clenching, which disrupt the proper resting position of your teeth. Managing stress through relaxation techniques, exercise, and mindfulness can help maintain a relaxed jaw and appropriate teeth positioning.

Q. Can poor posture affect the resting position of my teeth?

Yes, poor posture can affect the alignment of your jaw and teeth. Maintaining good posture, with your head aligned with your spine and avoiding slouching, helps support proper jaw positioning.

Q. What should I do if I’m unsure about my resting position?

Consult our dentist! They can assess your bite, jaw alignment, and tongue posture to identify any issues.

Q. What are some signs my resting position might be off?

Clenching your jaw, grinding teeth, frequent headaches, or constantly strained lips could indicate an improper resting position.

Q. Why is proper resting position important?

It helps prevent tension headaches, jaw pain, TMJ disorders, and excessive tooth wear. It can also guide proper jaw development in children.

Q. How can I tell if my tongue is in the right position?

Your tongue should rest comfortably on the roof of your mouth, behind your upper front teeth.

Q. How can I tell if my jaw is relaxed?

Your jaw is relaxed when there is no tension or tightness in the muscles. The teeth should not be clenched, and there should be a small space between your upper and lower teeth. Your lips should be closed without strain.

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