Child Tongue Thrust: What You Need To Know

Child Tongue Thrust: What You Need To Know
Posted on 08/01/2018
Babies can do a lot of things that seem silly, from putting everything they pick up into their mouths to sticking their tongues out when nursing or bottle feeding, but they’re just trying to discover all the new things in the world around them. Most habits that your baby will develop are harmless and should naturally go away between the ages of 2 and 4. However, certain habits that persist past that age can actually put your child at risk for health issues. One such habit that poses a serious threat to the health of your baby’s smile is called “tongue thrusting”. At Alderwood Children’s Dentistry, helping parents keep their kids’ smiles as healthy as possible is what we do, which is why we’ve put together this guide on everything you need to know about tongue thrusting. 


What Is Tongue Thrusting?

Tongue thrusting is a natural reflex that your baby has any time something comes into contact with the lips or he/she tries to swallow. The tongue will appear as if it’s sticking out between the upper and lower gums and is easy to spot whenever your baby is eating, but your baby will retract the tongue the moment they are finished eating. It’s also possible that tongue thrusting can be the result of allergies, with the tongue coming forward to make breathing easier when the throat is constricted in some way. 


How Tongue Thrusting Affects Your Child’s Smile

While the tongue thrusting habit is perfectly harmless to your child while he is still a baby, it can start to have negative effects on the shape of the jaw and the development of the teeth as your baby gets older. As the permanent teeth start to develop around the ages of 5 and 6, tongue thrusting can push the front teeth forward so they appear to flare out in a condition called “open bite,” which would need to be corrected through orthodontic treatment. The misalignment in the teeth or jaw could also result in other, long-term effects such as difficulty eating or speaking. 


How To Break A Tongue Thrust Habit

If your child develops a tongue thrust habit, it’s recommended that you schedule a visit with Dr. Worton here at Alderwood Children’s Dentistry so we can examine your baby’s oral health and keep a close eye on how the smile developments. If the tongue thrusting habit starts to pose a threat to your child’s smile, we can work with you to help your child break the habit. In certain cases, kids will need a special habit appliance that will protect their smile as it develops while helping break the habit naturally. 


Contact Alderwood Children’s Dentistry Today!

If you have any questions or concerns about child tongue thrust, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for an oral health examination for your child, just contact us and a member of our team will be happy to assist you with everything. We’ve been providing the families of Lynnwood, WA with reliable, child-friendly dental care for years, helping parents give their children the gift of a future full of healthy, radiant smiles. We look forward to providing your children with the quality dental care they deserve!