While many people suffer from orthodontic issues because of genetics and other factors outside of their control, many develop their problems due to them never stopping bad habits they had as babies, which stuck around for more time than they should have.
It’s completely normal for most babies to suck their thumb and have some type of tongue thrusting in the first years of their life. If the habits continue without any sort of treatment, however, there is the risk of damaging their baby and permanent teeth in the long term. To avoid this situation, keep yourself informed about tongue thrusting and how to deal with it in the following text.
What Causes Tongue Thrust?
Prolonged thumb or pacifier sucking, large tongues, mouth breading, lack of muscle strength, an open bite, or even common issues like sore throats and tonsils can all lead to consistent tongue thrusting on kids and adults.
While kids will naturally start bad oral habits, they usually correct them by themselves at around four years old. If you catch them still doing it after the fact, take them to your Fairfield orthodontist to prevent orthodontic issues from developing.
Types of Tongue Thrusting
Tongue thrusting can affect your oral health in many different ways. Some of the most problematic ones are causing orthodontic issues by shifting your teeth’s position and angles. The misaligned results could lead to difficulty brushing teeth, eating discomfort, difficulty talking, tooth decay, and even complete tooth loss.
Patients who don’t fix their tongue thrusting issue and go through orthodontic treatment to fix malocclusions or misaligned teeth will most likely see their hard-earned results vanish in no time. The constant pressure the tongue exerts on your teeth will eventually push your teeth out of position again. Because of this, it is crucial for patients to use appliances like a tongue crib before or in parallel to other orthodontic treatments.
Here are the most common types of tongue thrusting that could affect you or your child.
Anterior thrust is the most common type of tongue thrusting. The constant pressure that your tongue creates eventually forces your frontal upper teeth to move forward and your lower frontal teeth to move backward, creating an opening from where your tongue comes out when swallowing. If your lower row of teeth slants forward, orthodontists call the malocclusion an open bite.
This condition will sometimes come accompanied by a strong mentalis or a large tongue.
Similarly to the anterior thrust, the unilateral thrust prevents your teeth from touching when fully closing your mouth. As the name implies, the condition is unilateral, meaning it only creates one opening on either side of your mouth. The space that the misalignment creates involves teeth that are further back in the mouth than the anterior thrust.
The bilateral thrust is the exact opposite of the anterior thrust. Here the front side of the mouth is completely closed while the sides of the mouth, sometimes including the molars, are open. It is the most difficult type of tongue thrust to fix, and patients who suffer from it usually have a larger tongue than usual.
How to Detect Tongue Thrusting
You can detect tongue thrusting quite easily once it has already had an effect on the patient’s teeth and speech. After all, most parents will notice one or even two open spaces in their children’s teeth. Of course, every parent should try their best to identify tongue thrusting before the habit causes any serious movement.
Some of the most common signs of tongue thrusting in kids include breathing through their mouth, keeping their lips open even when not speaking or eating, their tongue pushing against the frontal teeth when speaking, and difficulty speaking.
If you suspect that your child presents tongue thrusting, take them to your Fairfield braces or orthodontist. They are able to confirm and diagnose tongue thrusting if present and will help you set a treatment plan for the patient.
What Is a Tongue Crib?
A tongue crib is a stainless steel orthodontic appliance designed to eliminate bad habits that a child may have regarding suction, like tongue thrusting and thumb sucking. The appliance has small metal bars behind the top frontal teeth, making it impossible for the patient to touch the inner side of their teeth with their tongue.
Depending on your specific situation, the orthodontist in charge can recommend either a permanent or removable appliance. It will mostly depend on the patient’s treatment compliance. Additionally, your child will have to wear the appliances for anywhere from 6 to 12 months to get rid of the habit completely.
Start Your Fairfield Treatment With Us
If you believe your child suffers from tongue thrusting or any other bad habit that could affect their oral health in the future, don’t hesitate to contact us at Westwalk Orthodontic Group. We will determine the issue and come up with a treatment plan tailored to your child. Schedule your appointment here when you are ready to start your orthodontic treatment or consult with Dr. Steve Cagliostro and Dr. Gary Romeo.