SANTA CRUZ, SCOTTS VALLEY CA
Your tongue is essential to daily life. It helps you speak, taste, chew, swallow and breathe. But for some individuals, their tongue doesn’t function properly due to a condition called tongue thrust, which may lead to a wide array of issues that includes speech impediments or difficulty eating. The earlier you identify and treat tongue thrust, the better, so that you can avoid developing poor oral habits that take longer to correct later in life. So today on the blog, our neuromuscular dentists in Scotts Valley share the most common symptoms of tongue thrust and what you should do if you have it.
Common symptoms of tongue thrust
The most prominent symptom of tongue thrust is that the tip of the tongue pushes against the back side of the front teeth when swallowing. This may be difficult to detect if you’ve had this problem your entire life. But here are some other common signs that you might have tongue thrust.
- You show your food when you eat or you eat with your mouth open.
- You gag easily or have a difficult time swallowing certain types of food.
- Your front teeth protrude.
- Your teeth are misaligned or gapped.
- You breathe through your mouth, instead of your nose.
While you may be tempted to self-diagnose your disorder based on this list of symptoms, a well-trained neuromuscular dentist is the best physician to consult for this type of dental condition.
What is the primary cause of tongue thrust?
Tongue thrust is usually spotted in early childhood, as a child may become a picky eater, be slow to develop speech or breathe frequently through the mouth whether awake or asleep. Children that suck a pacifier or their thumbs much longer than is expected may develop tongue thrust and incorrect swallowing patterns. Left untreated, tongue thrust could result in front teeth that protrude significantly, a narrow facial structure and airway, and increases the risk of snoring and sleep apnea later in life.
What are the best treatments for tongue thrust?
Tongue thrust treatment depends on each case, although here are the most common ways to fix this condition.
Mouth exercises known as myofunctional therapy help retrain the tongue to function properly. This involves training the tongue to rest along the roof of the mouth, and to move in correct swallowing patterns when eating.
Behavioral changes, like curbing thumb sucking, mouth breathing and pacifier usage can also be managed with myofunctional therapy, as well as conscious observation.
Facial growth appliance therapy is helpful for treating children with tongue thrust and helps promote jawbone and palatal growth to its fullest.
Orthodontics may help patients with gapped, protruding, or misaligned teeth, and are ideal for adults that receive orofacial myofunctional therapy for tongue thrust correction and have a desire to straighten their teeth.
Tongue Thrust Treatment in Scotts Valley, Los Gatos and Santa Cruz in California
Identifying tongue thrust and treating it as soon as possible produces the best outcome, but you’re never too old to correct this common problem. If you’d like to learn more about tongue thrust or schedule a consultation, please call our Scotts Valley neuromuscular dentists at (831) 438-4411.