Tongue Thrusts Raise Havoc While Kids Are Growing
During a normal day we are breathing, blinking, keeping our balance, and doing a thousand tiny things to which we never give a second thought.
One such unconscious behavior is the way we chew and swallow our food. Infants swallow with their tongues pushed against their gums. This is normal for babies and very young children. By age 7, children should begin to swallow with their tongue placed on the roof of the mouth.
Some children never transition to a normal swallowing pattern. Along with various finger habits, improper swallowing can result in a condition known as tongue thrust. Over time a tongue thrust may cause serious problems, affecting the teeth and jaws as children mature.
Human beings swallow between 1,200 and 2,000 times every day. The tongue is a very strong muscle and exerts exerts almost 4 pounds of pressure with every swallow. The soft and resilient tissue of the roof of the mouth can handle this pressure well, but teeth can not.
A tongue thrust habit can push the front teeth forward and away from the lower teeth. Eventually, the direction of jaw growth is altered, causing an “open bite.” Because the tongue can no longer be placed correctly, normal speech patterns are altered, resulting in a lisp.
A tongue thrust should be addressed as soon as possible. Dr. Hage can evaluate if orthodontic treatment is necessary to realign the teeth and correct adverse jaw growth. Early intervention is critical. Open bite therapy for an adult often requires a combined orthodontic and surgical approach to correct the problem.
The American Association of Orthodontics recommends that all children have an orthodontic evaluation by age 7. This check-up can catch a number of different problems in time for early orthodontic treatment to be effective. Tongue thrusting is one such problem that can be redirected if caught early.
You are your child’s first defense against orthodontic problems that can hinder healthy teeth and a beautiful smile. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office to schedule a free consultation to determine if your child is a candidate for early preventative treatment.