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 occurs as a result of tongue thrusting is misalignment. 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. Tongue thrusting can also interfere with normal tooth eruption.
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.