Tongue thrusting is the action of pressing or resting your tongue against the back of your front teeth. It’s a natural instinct for babies, and most people grow out of it in childhood.
However, some children keep tongue thrusting as they get older. Thumb sucking and using pacifiers can reinforce tongue thrusting — and without treatment, tongue thrusting can negatively impact your child’s development.
Walied Touni, DDS, MSD, and our team provide tongue thrusting evaluations and orthodontic treatment for children at Touni Orthodontics in Sunnyvale, California. If you think your child might have tongue thrust, read on to learn more about the risks of leaving this common condition untreated.
Common complications of tongue thrust
Tongue thrusting puts repetitive pressure on your child’s teeth, which can have a serious impact on their oral health and overall mouth function as they grow up.
Constant pressure against the back of your child’s teeth can force them out of place. As your child’s mouth grows, their tongue may push their front teeth out or crowd nearby teeth to the sides. The result is often gapped, crooked teeth that make biting and talking more difficult.
Along with crooked teeth, tongue thrusting can contribute to bite problems. Bite problems develop when your child’s top and bottom teeth don’t meet properly when they bite down and chew. The most common bite problems are overbite, underbite, or crossbite, and all of these can impair mouth function.
Your child’s teeth and tongue work together to help them form words, but tongue thrusting interferes with speech. Tongue thrusting can cause speech delay problems in children, including struggling with certain sounds and a permanent lisp.
The tooth misalignments and bite issues that come with tongue thrusting can affect your child’s overall face shape. Left untreated, their tongue thrusting may contribute to an elongated profile. They may also develop the habit of resting with their mouth open or with their tongue sitting past their teeth.
What to do about tongue thrust
If your child has tongue thrust, it’s important to schedule an orthodontic evaluation. Dr. Touni and our team do an oral exam, review their symptoms, and work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Some children grow out of tongue thrusting on their own, and no treatment is necessary. In these cases, Dr. Touni may recommend watchful waiting along with regular pediatric dental care.
If your child is around age six or older, or their symptoms are severe, Dr. Touni may recommend early orthodontic intervention. We specialize in orthodontic appliances to straighten teeth, correct bite misalignments, and improve tongue thrusting.
Find out more about the symptoms of tongue thrusting and how they could impact your child’s development. Call Touni Orthodontics today or request an appointment online to get started.