What is Tongue Thrusting?
Tongue thrusting is just what it sounds like: the tongue is pushing or thrusting too far forward in the mouth and can push against the back of the teeth which can result in an open bite malocclusion. It is often characterized by the tongue pushing through the front teeth when eating, speaking, or swallowing. This irregular tongue positioning is often due to a muscular imbalance.
While this condition is normal in infants, it is usually outgrown by around six months old. If the condition continues it can become problematic. There are a variety of causes for tongue thrusting to continue into childhood and adulthood:
- Poor swallowing
- Allergies tongue-tie
- Use of baby bottles or pacifiers
- Thumb sucking
Signs of Tongue Thrusting
There are many different signs a patient is experiencing tongue thrusting:
- Visible tongue between teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Unable to close lips completely
- Open bite
- Difficulty eating
- Speech impediment such as a lisp
- Longer than normal tongue
Ways to treat
Orthodontic treatment is a great solution and can help correct any open bite created by tongue thrusting. Nightguards and other dental appliances may also be used to create a barrier between the tongue and teeth. Patients may also need speech therapy or myofunctional therapy to help treat the muscles of the mouth, tongue, and face.
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