Unsuspecting Sign of Autism

sign of autismSanta Cruz, Scotts Valley CA

It’s crucial to be observant to detect our children’s physical or psychological changes. However, some symptoms are not as evident but are indications that the child might be developing a disorder or have delayed growth and development. An example is autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and its effects on tongue thrust. Tongue thrust is a swallowing disorder characterized by forward tongue movement against the back of the teeth. The problem is that tongue thrust is an unsuspecting sign of ASD. That’s why our Scotts Valley family dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry share detailed information about the condition to educate parents and get children the help they need.

What is ASD?

ASD is a lifelong developmental condition, prefaced by early brain abnormalities that refer to neurological variations. New statistics from the CDC indicate that the prevalence of ASD is one in 54 children currently or has been diagnosed with it at some point. Therefore, every parent must be acquainted with the risks related to the condition to better manage the situation. Children with a diagnosis of ASD might present communication impairments, social interaction problems, and behavioral issues. Our Los Gatos area family dentists say that the challenges can affect daily functioning, so parents must be understanding. Although there is no specific characteristic that a pediatrician or clinical psychologist can use to diagnose ASD, there are certain oral factors that may be considered as symptoms, including tongue thrust.

What is tongue thrust?

It’s crucial to monitor your child’s oral development. Tongue thrust is an improper swallowing pattern that involves the movement of the tongue’s tip forward to touch the back of the front teeth. Our Santa Cruz family dentists explain that this may lead to an open bite where the front teeth don’t come together when the jaw is in a closed position. Others may discover possible tongue thrust when the tongue is between the teeth while at rest, when eating or swallowing, during mouth breathing, eating slowly or messy, or when gagging often while eating. Another sign could be stuttering, stammering, or struggling to produce certain sounds, especially when they say the words with an “s” or that begin with a “th”. Since these behaviors are warning signs of a serious condition, it’s important to identify them early enough for treatment.

How are ASD and tongue thrust linked?

For parents, knowing what certain oral behaviors may connect to developmental problems like ASD makes it easier to support and care for children with such conditions. Tongue protrusion or thrusting and other self-stimulatory behaviors such as rocking, or vocalization are common among autistic children and teenagers during distressing circumstances. Though this phenomenon is quite normal during the developmental process, its presence might be evidence of ASD. Furthermore, people with developmental disorders like ASD have a very high likelihood of developing a condition referred to as ‘bruxism,’ which is essentially the habitual grinding of the teeth. Unfortunately, it’s a scenario that may lead to more dental problems like tooth wear or even damage. Also, our family dentists in Scotts Valley explain that children with ASD may also be prone to self-injurious behaviors making it possible to get chipped or broken teeth. Other habits, such as nail biting, pencil chewing, and mouth breathing might also be linked to children with ASD.

Family Dentists in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California

To diagnose and treat possible signs such as tongue thrust in children, parents need to be well-informed of its related oral health factors. Autism conditions are on the rise, which means parents must remain aware and prepared for their child’s unique needs. If you suspect the above behavior in your child, please contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry at (831) 438-4411 and book an appointment with our Los Gatos area family dentists. You aren’t alone in this venture and seeking professional help to facilitate early intervention when your child has dental issues is the right step to take to guarantee their dental health and wellbeing.