The proper position for your child’s tongue is the back of their upper front teeth when they swallow. However, if you notice your child is moving their tongue between their upper and bottom teeth, your child may be developing tongue thrust.
What Causes Tongue Thrust?
Tongue thrust occurs when a child pushes their tongue too far forward in their mouth between their upper and lower teeth. This habit, most commonly found in children, can often be caused by poor swallowing habits and allergies. Babies who have been bottle-fed may also develop tongue thrust but should resolve as they age.
The most common sign of tongue thrust is too much movement of the tongue when your child swallows or speaks. Some other common signs include:
- Open bite (when the top and bottom teeth don’t meet when teeth are closed).
- Speech impediment — such as lisping.
- Inability to close the mouth completely.
- Mouth breathing.
If left untreated, tongue thrust can cause your child’s teeth to form irregularly, and their speech impediment may worsen.
How to Treat Tongue Thrust
Tongue thrust is a highly treatable condition. No matter your child’s age, tongue thrust can be treated in a few common ways. One of the most popular ways of treating tongue thrust is a ‘tongue crib’ on the roof of your child’s mouth. This orthodontic tool can correct open bite.
Beyond receiving orthodontic care, your child may need to visit an ear, nose and throat doctor to address any breathing problems or to check if your child has allergies. There are additional exercises that your child can do at home to prevent tongue thrust, in conjunction with speech therapy.
If you believe your child has developed tongue thrust, seeking help from your dentist is the first step. At Pediatric Dentistry, we can examine your child and offer advice for next steps. Contact us today to set up an appointment!