Know the Signs of Tongue Thrust


Tongue thrust is a common condition, especially among young children. This disorder occurs when the tongue pushes against your teeth from inside your mouth. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, tongue thrust can impact nutrition, oral health, and overall wellness. That’s why it’s important to know the symptoms of tongue thrust. Here are some of the key signs to watch for in your child.

Watch for these symptoms of tongue thrust

A person with tongue thrust experiences inordinate pressure on the back side of their teeth, especially when swallowing.

Some of the most detectable symptoms of tongue thrust include the following:

  • Identifying a change in the way you eat, chew, or speak
  • A sudden change in the alignment of your bite
  • The formation of a new gap between your teeth
  • Mouth breathing
  • Being unable to completely close your lips and/or teeth
  • Tongue thrust even can contribute to anatomical changes–specifically, a more narrow face or larger tongue.

If you see any of these signs, you should schedule an appointment with your family dentist in Scotts Valley.

How does your dentist diagnose tongue thrust?

First, a comprehensive examination takes place, which includes physical exams and possible X-rays. Once tongue thrust is identified, one of our dentists can comprise a treatment plan. A key component of that plan is determining the cause of tongue thrust.

One of the most common culprits behind a case of tongue thrust is overuse of a pacifier, or using the pacifier later in life, extending beyond infancy and early childhood. Tongue thrust also can develop unconsciously as a consequence of mouth breathing.

Tongue thrust treatment options

Without proper treatment, tongue thrust can lead to problems throughout your life, including a misaligned bite, nutritional deficiencies from the difficulty eating, or a restricted airway that encourages the development of a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea.

At Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, our treatment options for tongue thrust include any combination of the following:

Oral appliances – We can prescribe a custom-made oral appliance, fabricated to the precise fit of your mouth, to serve as a barrier to keep your tongue from pushing on the teeth.

Myofunctional therapy – This is a series of exercises that work the muscles of the face and mouth. Performed consistently over time (the average course of therapy is about six months), these muscles are re-trained to compensate for any negative oral habit, such as tongue thrust.

Functional orthodontics – Whereas traditional orthodontic treatment, such as braces or the use of plastic aligners, typically occurs during adolescence, we can use functional orthodontics on young children to correct negative habits or even encourage positive facial growth and development. This can alleviate any misalignment or crookedness in teeth that developed as a consequence of tongue thrust.

Treating tongue thrust in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley in California

The demands of oral care often go beyond cleanings and filling cavities. If your child has tongue thrust, prompt treatment can help correct this potentially harmful habit and prevent any additional problems manifesting as a result of your tongue pressing against teeth. Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry offers myofunctional therapy and functional orthodontics that are not available at any other dental office in the Central Coast. To find out more about our services or schedule a consultation, call (831) 438-4411 or contact us online.