Tongue thrust is one of the destructive oral habits, in which the infant pushes their tongue against and between the upper and lower teeth. This habit is perfectly normal in infants until they are 2 years of age but after that, it can cause some problems. These habits are caused by the habit of thumb sucking that results in a distance between upper and lower teeth. This problem can be treated using a partial orthodontics appliance, which can be easily placed on the maxilla (upper jaw) by an orthodontist and prevent the tongue thrust. By early diagnosis of this malocclusion, you can go to an orthodontist to break this habit and avoid crooked teeth in your child. The orthodontist will determine whether your child’s tongue thrust habit requires treatment or not and which treatment is suitable for their conditions.
Tongue Thrust Complications
Tongue thrust is a perfectly common habit among infants and in fact, it is not considered a problem by age of 5 and does not need treatment. This habit is formed due to thumb sucking and the position of the tongue in this situation. Over time, as the process of sucking is replaced by chewing, the position of the tongue will change and the child will break the habit of sticking their tongue out. The child might continue sticking their tongue out due to many reasons. Including the thumb-sucking habit.
The tongue has many responsibilities in the mouth such as maintaining the airway, helping to chew, swallow, digest, and developing face and speech. This bad habit can cause a problem for the tongue in performing its tasks. Tongue thrust can disrupt the normal growth of teeth and lead to teeth protrusion and crooked teeth.
Tongue Thrust Can Be a Sign of Other Malocclusions
The tongue starts to develop and form in the embryo’s mouth during the fourth week of pregnancy. In some cases, a disruption in the development of the tongue can cause deformities in the child’s jaw and mouth, which might require treatment in adulthood. Orthodontics is one of these treatments. In this situation, tongue thrust might occur due to other problems. Some diseases such as Down syndrome can lead to abnormalities in the formation of the tongue and jaws and reveal themselves after birth and during childhood by tongue thrust.
The Necessity of Treating Tongue Thrust
An orthodontist can decide whether the tongue thrust is a serious problem and requires treatment or it is just a habit that will can be broken by consultation. An orthodontist identifies the cause of sticking the tongue out and suggests the appropriate treatment and orthodontics appliance. Treatments are not always complex and they do not always require surgery. In most cases, this problem is due to the child’s bad habits and can be treated with easy solutions. Note that if the tongue thrust is not treated, it can turn into serious malocclusions and require more complex treatment and longer time.
When Should We Go to an Orthodontist?
You might be confused and do not know how serious is your child’s problem. Usually, children outgrow the habit of tongue thrust by age of 5. In case you notice that your child still has this habit, it is necessary to visit an orthodontist to decide about the treatment.