Tongue thrusting is a problem that not many parents have heard about, but it’s one you should have on your radar if you have very young children. More formally known as orofacial muscular imbalance, tongue thrusting is a condition in which the tongue protrudes from the mouth when you’re swallowing or speaking. In some cases, especially with younger children, the tongue will also protrude when the mouth is at rest.
It can be a problem that affects teenagers and adults, but tongue thrusting is most common in children under the age of four. As well as potentially leading to certain speech defects, tongue thrusting can also cause certain dental conditions.
Tongue thrusting doesn’t always lead to the need for orthodontic work; in fact, it won’t always impact your child’s oral health in any way. However, minor tongue thrusting can still move teeth out of alignment enough to create an unpleasant appearance. This is usually seen in a splaying of the front teeth. Your child might just want a brace to correct the problem and improve their appearance.
One of the more serious problems that occur as a result of tongue thrusting is misalignment which needs special attention from childrens orthodontic care providers immediately. When the tongue applies an excessive amount of pressure on the teeth day after day, those teeth can be pushed out of alignment. If this happens with the baby teeth, the adult teeth will also come in misaligned. Serious misalignment will almost always prompt orthodontic intervention, maybe from the likes of a south jordan braces dentist or one near you. Tongue thrusting can also interfere with normal tooth eruption, so it is important to avoid the habit altogether.
If the tongue protrudes while swallowing, it could lead to what is known as an open bite, where the front teeth do not meet properly when the mouth is closed. This issue can make it difficult to chew food, and can also cause speech problems. If you notice this in your child, you could consult a pediatric orthodontics specialist at the earliest to get a proper diagnosis done. In most cases, developing a treatment plan early on can prove advantageous in the long run.
Tongue thrusting can affect speech due to the aforementioned issues like misalignment. Children who have this issue may develop a lisp or may find it challenging to pronounce certain letters. This happens because the tongue is not properly placed in the mouth, which affects the way the letters sound. If this problem persists even if the tongue thrusting is fixed, the child may need to visit a speech therapist to learn how to form those sounds properly.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Finally, tongue thrusting is bad for your oral health because misaligned teeth are not very easy to clean. There are too many concealed spots when teeth meet that cannot be reached with either floss or your toothbrush, so the chance of decay and infection increases. Since tongue thrusting also puts a lot of pressure on the teeth, the enamel may also wear off, causing issues like tooth sensitivity, tooth wear, and increased risk of dental decay.