Our tongues play quite an important role in our oral health, as they help us communicate with others and nourish our bodies. If the tongue isn’t in proper position, it can impact the way we speak, eat, and even breathe, causing serious orofacial structural damage.
What is a Tongue Thrust?
When we swallow, the tip of our tongue should gently press the upper roof of our mouth (i.e. alveolar ridge), right behind the upper front teeth. With tongue thrust, the tongue tends to push through the upper and lower front teeth when swallowing, often causing the lips to open.
What Causes Tongue Thrust in Adults?
Tongue thrust can occur due to a variety of reasons. In fact, some potential causes begin during infancy, such as prolonged sucking habits, allergies that cause chronic swelling, tongue tie, and reverse swallowing patterns. Tongue thrust in adults is often caused when childhood tongue thrust goes untreated. It can, however, occur in adults as a result of other factors, including the following:
- Elongated Facial Structure Formation
- Larger Tongue
- Chronic Allergies
- Larger Tonsils
It’s important to recognize tongue thrust habits and begin treatment(s) as soon as possible to minimize the risk of any additional health and oral concerns. Not sure how to tell if you have tongue thrust? The following habits are often associated with tongue thrust:
- Mouth Breathing
- Lips Remaining Open
- Speech Impediments (e.g. lisp, etc.)
Our Dakota Dental team can help you determine if tongue thrust may be affecting you, by performing some simple, noninvasive diagnostic tests right in our office. To schedule an appointment, contact us today!
What Other Problems Can Tongue Thrust Cause?
If tongue thrust is left untreated, it may lead to additional oral and health concerns, including the following:
- Open Bite Malocclusion (i.e. when the mouth is closed, your upper teeth don’t touch the bottom teeth, leaving a gap.)
- Dental Malformations
- Breathing Difficulties
- Speech Impediments
Treatments for Tongue Thrust in Adults
The good news is tongue thrust is very treatable. To begin effective treatments and therapies, consult with your doctor, speech pathologist, or your Dakota Dental team, who can help determine the severity of your condition and recommend the best treatment plan to correct your tongue thrust.
Here are some effective treatment options that your dentist may incorporate into your personalized care plan:
- Tongue Thrust Correction Exercises: By performing this simple therapeutic exercise twice a day, you can work to retrain your tongue and orofacial muscles to encourage proper alignment.
- Speech Therapy: By working with a speech language pathologist, you can retrain your mouth and tongue with therapeutic exercises designed to encourage healthy habits for swallowing, speaking, eating, etc.
If tongue thrust therapy exercises aren’t enough to address your tongue thrust, it may be time to consider an alternative treatment option. At Dakota Dental, our dental team specializes in a variety of holistic treatments and therapies for common dental health concerns, including myofunctional therapy to treat tongue thrust, sleep apnea, and other orofacial concerns, in addition to a wide range of oral health and cosmetic dentistry services.
- Myofunctional Therapy: This powerful therapy involves behavior modification training and orofacial exercises to improve the tongue’s natural resting position, while strengthening important facial muscles involving the tongue, cheeks, lips, mouth, and jaw. This therapy is highly effective with treating tongue thrust and other orofacial myofunctional disorders. For more information on myofunctional therapy, contact your dentist at Dakota Dental today!
Schedule a Consultation
For more information on myofunctional therapy, visit our website or contact us today to schedule a consultation, where we can assess your oral health and discuss the best comprehensive treatment plan to address your dental goals and tongue thrust concerns.