April 21, 2017

Tongue Thrust Habits: Causes, Effects and How to Fix Them

Tongue thrusting is the habit of putting the tongue in the incorrect position during swallowing, by placing the tongue too far forward or to the sides. As an infantile swallowing pattern, tongue thrusting is exhibited by children from birth, making it acceptable to have this swallowing pattern up to the age of four. While most children will outgrow the infantile swallowing pattern, some children continue to place their tongue too far forward or to the sides, due to many factors.


What Causes Tongue Thrusting?


Tongue thrusting can be caused by several things including:


  • A prolonged thumb or finger sucking habit
  • Mouth breathing that causes the tongue’s posture to be very low in the mouth. Often times, people who breathe through their mouths have on-going nasal congestion, allergies, or physical obstructions that cause this behavior.
  • Swallowing difficulties resulting from enlarged adenoids, tonsillitis or frequent sore throats
  • Some artificial nipples used to feed infants
  • Hereditary factors
  • Neurological problems
  • Physiological abnormalities
  • A large tongue


Tongue Thrusting Effects


The continuous pressure exerted from thrusting the tongue can push the teeth forward to cause them to become misaligned. When the teeth are not in proper alignment, it can adversely affect the bite and jaw. Most people with a tongue thrust habit tend to have an open bite wherein the upper and lower front teeth do not come together or meet as they should.


Treatment for Tongue Thrusting


Dr. Peralta can treat tongue thrusting by fitting the patient with a special fixed appliance. This appliance is called a tongue crib and it helps break the tongue thrusting habit, while assisting in re-establishing a more proper biting pattern. This appliance works very well and is cemented in semi-permanently. Braces can also be used to bring the teeth into proper alignment. If the tongue thrusting has affected the speech, a consultation with a speech therapist may be recommended.


Contact Your Orthodontist in West Seattle


If you have any questions about tongue thrusting or how it’s treated, please feel free to contact us as we’re always here to help! If you suspect that your child has a tongue thrusting habit, we encourage you to request an appointment with Dr. Peralta today for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis.