WHAT IS TONGUE THRUSTING?

WHAT IS TONGUE THRUSTING?

WHAT IS TONGUE THRUSTING?

Tongue thrusting is the habit of pushing your tongue forward between the upper and lower teeth during one or more of these times:

  • Speaking
  • Swallowing
  • Resting

This habit usually starts during childhood but can persist until adulthood if not treated appropriately on time. The proper positioning for the tongue is for the tip to push against the gum above the back of your upper front teeth.

SYMPTOMS

A patient with tongue thrust disorder may have one or more of these:

  • High and narrow palate (Roof of the mouth).
  • Speech problems having difficulties making sounds correctly, especially sh, ch, zh, and j.
  • Mouth breathing.
  • Open lips when in a resting position.
  • Prolonged finger sucking habit.
  • Food chewing problem.

WHY IS TONGUE THRUSTING BAD?

The tongue is a very powerful muscle – one that’s strong enough to push teeth out of their natural position. This bad swallowing habit is even more apparent when you realize that the average human swallows about 2,000 times a day! Over time, Patients with this type of tongue habit frequently result in an abnormal orthodontic condition called an “OPEN BITE”, in which the upper and lower teeth cannot make contact when the mouth is closed, this means that the front teeth won’t actually touch.

In order to correct this OPEN BITE that usually comes together with the tongue thrust habit, an Orthodontic treatment must be performed. This way the position of the teeth will be modified in order to close the bite and adjust the relationship between the upper and lower teeth. In addition, it is mandatory to re-educate the position of the tongue to stop the pushing effect of the tongue over the teeth.

TONGUE THRUST EXERCISE

For fixing this bad habit, we recommend the following exercise:

  • First, place a small orthodontic rubber band on the tip of your tongue.
  • Press the tip of your tongue against the gum in the roof of your mouth that’s right behind your upper front teeth.
  • Bite your teeth together in your regular bite; don’t bite forward.
  • Keep your lips apart.
  • Make sure not to let your lips close or your teeth come apart. Also, please don’t panic if you accidentally swallow a rubber band – it will pass through your system without any problems.

Because you have a habit of pushing your tongue forward when you swallow, this exercise may be a little difficult to do in the beginning. However, with enough practice, it’s really not as hard as it may seem to be. We recommend doing two sets of 30 swallows every day, preferably once in the morning and again in the evening. While success will take some effort when you manage to stop your tongue thrusting, your braces will be able to come off sooner and your teeth will stay in perfect alignment.

 

Dr. María Isabel Fernández

Specialist Orthodontist

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