What is Tongue Thrusting?
Tongue thrusting is a habit in which your child will place his tongue in the wrong spot when swallowing, either to the side of his mouth or too far forward.
The constant pressure that your tongue places on the teeth can force them out of alignment, and if not corrected, major problems could occur with the placement of your child’s teeth, requiring orthodontic work to correct it.
Tongue Thrust Causes
There are a variety of different causes to tongue thrust, and determining the cause is the first step in treating the problem:
- Prolonged thumb sucking
- Mouth breathing, as this can result in low-lying tongue posture
- Difficulty swallowing due to the tonsils, frequent sore throats, or the adenoids
- Tongue tie, or a short lingual frenum
- Genetic factors like angle of the jaw line
The Problems with Tongue Thrusting
There are a variety of consequences associated with tongue thrusting. Forcing the tongue up against the teeth is a major cause for bad bites or malformation. If your child has orthodontic work done to complete this problem and the tongue thrusting continues, this can reverse the orthodontic treatment. Certain speech problems like a lateral lisp could also result from tongue thrusting.
Tongue Thrust Correction
With cooperation and commitment between you and your child, correction is possible for a tongue thrust in most situations. Tongue therapy or myofunctional therapy can be used, as this exercise technique will teach your child how to use his tongue muscles appropriately. This is similar to physical therapy for the tongue, and in-office visits with a therapist and home exercises are crucial to this program’s success. In other cases, an appliance can be placed into your child’s mouth to discourage him from engaging in the thrusting behavior.
Do you have questions about thrusting, or are you concerned that your child is tongue thrusting? Contact our office to set up an appointment.