Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry is dedicated to protecting your child’s teeth through prevention of bad habits. This includes tongue thrusting, an oral habit that if left alone, could cause detrimental damage to your child’s teeth. Before your child is in need of orthodontic treatment, here are a few things a parent should know.
What does it mean to thrust your tongue?
Essentially, thrusting is the habit of pushing the tongue forward between the upper and lower teeth when swallowing, instead of the tip of the tongue pushing against the gum behind the upper, front teeth. It begins in the infant stage and children should outgrow by age six.
Children who experience tongue thrusting are often children who engage in thumb sucking, use a pacifier, or breathe through their mouth. You may notice your child engaging in thrusting if you see your child's tongue protrude between their teeth when speaking, during their swallowing pattern, or resting posture.
Effects of tongue thrusting
The tongue, one of the strongest muscles in the human body, can begin to cause misalignment in your child’s teeth. Overbites or open bites, gaps between teeth, and protruding teeth can all happen if tongue thrusting goes unmediated. These dental issues will need to be fixed with orthodontic measures, like braces.
How to stop your child from tongue thrusting
One of the first ways to stop tongue thrusting, is to stop the habit of thumbsucking or take away any pacifiers that may still be used. If your child has trouble breathing through their nose, consult their pediatrician to possibly be referred to an ENT specialist.
There are exercises to practice with your child that can create new muscle memory for their tongue to rest properly when swallowing. Have your child practice:
● Pressing the tip of their tongue against the he gum behind the upper, front teeth
● Then, biting their teeth together
● Now, keeping their lips apart - swallow.
During these exercises, make sure their lips do not close and they’re teeth do not come apart. This exercise should be done at least 30 times, twice a day. Encourage your child to practice these exercised each morning when they wake up, and before they go to sleep at night.
For more answers to your tongue thrusting questions, contact Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry. Our knowledgeable staff is dedicated to protecting children’s smiles and will be happy to help.