Can Tongue Thrust in Adults be Treated?

tongue thrust in adultsSCOTTS VALLEY, SANTA CRUZ CA

Tongue thrust is an orofacial myofunctional disorder classified as improper tongue function. In cases of tongue thrust, the tongue moves through or pushes against the front teeth (instead of in a wave-like motion on the roof of the mouth) when swallowing. Correct swallowing patterns typically develop around age 7 or 8, but prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier usage, as well as other factors, may lead to tongue thrust. If not addressed, its effects linger into adulthood and may cause development problems of the jaw and airway, as well as severely misaligned teeth. Today on the blog, myofunctional therapists in Scotts Valley at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry talk about whether tongue thrust in adults can be treated.

What causes tongue thrust?

Tongue thrust can be caused by open mouth posture, which means the mouth remains open all of the time, even during the absence of chewing or speaking. Improper swallowing patterns may also be caused by digit sucking, pacifier usage, or blocked airways (due to enlarged tonsils, adenoids, deviated septum, or chronic allergies). Tongue thrust is usually evident in children and can be addressed early on if caught in time. However, there are many cases in which children with tongue thrust are overlooked by general dentists, and therefore, grow into adults having never addressed the issue.

What problems does tongue thrust cause?

Our tongues are said to be the strongest muscle in the body. It has a big job to do. Not only does it aid in speech and chewing, but the tongue has a lot to do with how the jaws and dental arch develops, as well as has a significant impact on tooth alignment. Proper rest oral posture means the mouth is closed, teeth are touching, lips are together, and the tongue rests along the upper palate while nasal breathing. When oral posture and function are disrupted, so are the growth patterns of the jaw, airway, and teeth.

This may not seem like a huge deal, but it could have significant health impacts, including the following

  • Severely misaligned teeth
  • Open bite
  • Crossbite, under bite, or overbite
  • Snoring and sleep apnea
  • TMJ disorder
  • Weak or recessed chin
  • Unfavorable facial profile
  • Mouth breathing
  • Elongated face
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Delayed speech or speech impediments (slurs, lisps, etc.)
  • Learning difficulties
  • Picky eating habits
  • Stunted growth
  • Poor health condition

When tongue thrust is identified in children, the issue can be corrected to avoid these aforementioned problems later in life. However, if you are an adult that has tongue thrust, there is still hope! Myofunctional therapy corrects tongue thrust in adults.

What is myofunctional therapy?

Myofunctional therapy is a form of physical therapy that targets the muscles of the face, neck, mouth, and tongue. The goals of myofunctional therapy are to improve bite (how your teeth and jaws align), breathing, and facial posture. Just like physical therapy is curtailed to meet the patient’s individual needs, myofunctional therapy uses a similar approach. Whether your tongue thrust causes you to battle a speech impediment or your nighttime snoring due to improper oral rest posture leaves you feeling chronically fatigued, myofunctional therapy can help. Additionally, myofunctional therapy can only be offered by licensed individuals, such as dental hygienists or dentists. Results of your therapy are also dependent on your commitment to follow through with at-home exercises.

Tongue Thrust Treatment for Adults in Scotts Valley, Los Gatos, and Santa Cruz

Myofunctional therapy can help widen the airways, curb snoring, strengthen weak jaw and chin muscles to improve facial profile and oral rest posture and tongue patterns. In some cases, additional dental treatments such as orthodontics may be needed to align teeth that have been severely misaligned for years. To get your smile and your health on track, contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry by calling (831) 438-4411 and schedule a consultation with our Scotts Valley myofunctional therapist today.