Tongue thrust is a common orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). It occurs when your tongue presses too far forward in your mouth. It interferes with eating and talking, and it puts pressure on your front teeth when you’re at rest.
Anyone can have tongue thrust, and it’s particularly common among children. In fact, up to 95% of children ages 5-8 have some symptoms of tongue thrusting.
Tongue thrust can have a negative impact on your child’s teeth, bite, and overall oral health — but the earlier it’s identified, the simpler it is to correct. Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, and our team at Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California, can help.
Tongue thrust: what to look for
The most obvious sign of tongue thrust is your tongue pressing against the front of your mouth when you’re swallowing, talking, or at rest. But if you’re evaluating your child’s oral health, it’s not so easy to tell where their tongue is and if it’s causing problems.
Most children thrust their tongues as babies, because it’s a normal feeding motion for infants. However, feeding habits change as your child grows up, and their mouth and tongue movements should evolve too.
Children who continue sucking pacifiers, fingers, or thumbs long after infancy may have more trouble overcoming the habit of tongue thrusting. As they get older, they may be at risk of orthodontic issues caused by tongue thrusting.
Some common signs of tongue thrust are:
- Difficulty eating or swallowing
- Crooked front teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Open bite
- Resting with an open mouth
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these signs could indicate tongue thrusting. Consider scheduling an orthodontic evaluation for your child if they’re exhibiting these habits, especially if they’re around ages 6-7.
Early intervention and treatment for tongue thrust
If your child has symptoms of tongue thrusting, it’s important to have an orthodontic evaluation. Tongue thrusting won’t go away on its own — and the longer it’s left untreated, the more difficult it can be to treat effectively.
Dr. Touni and our team specialize in early orthodontic intervention for children. Early intervention means examining your child’s mouth and identifying any issues early, so they can be treated before they get worse.
Tongue thrust can be treated with several different orthodontic appliances. Depending on your child’s condition, Dr. Touni may recommend treatment to move their teeth into proper position or to protect their teeth from excessive tongue pressure.
Sometimes, targeted exercises and/or speech therapy are also part of tongue thrust treatment. Both of these therapies can help your child get more comfortable with normal swallowing patterns and tongue placement.
Tongue thrusting should be taken seriously, but the good news is that orthodontic treatment makes a big difference. Find the best treatment for your child’s tongue thrust with a consultation at Touni Orthodontics. Call our office or request an appointment online today.