New Holland Family Dentist May Be First to Spot Tongue Thrusting

During the act of swallowing, some children develop a habit of pressing the tongue against the back sides of the front teeth. This condition, known as tongue thrusting, exerts a steady and tremendous degree of pressure on the hard palate and the teeth, altering the child’s bite and contributing to a number of related dental and health complications.

Tongue thrusting is often a very subtle swallowing disorder that is easily overlooked at home, but can be readily diagnosed in a New Holland family dental office. A large portion of a child’s clinical examination is devoted to observing the development of the upper and lower jaws, the position of the lips, and the alignment of the teeth.

The signs of tongue thrusting are similar to the signs of thumb-sucking, and your dentist may ask for your help in determining which habit has contributed to the problem. As a parent or caregiver, you may also be able to aid in the diagnosis by watching for the signs and symptoms of this disorder at home:

● A well-developed upper jaw and an under-developed lower jaw

● Front teeth that protrude or appear “bucked”

● Speech problems

● Trouble closing the lips when resting

● Chewing problems

● A high palate (roof of the mouth)

If you suspect that your child has a swallowing disorder, your dentist can help to determine when and if any interceptive treatment is required. It is common for infants and babies to press their tongues forward during swallowing, although most children will transition to a normal swallowing pattern around the age of 6. Beyond age 6, professional treatment could be recommended in order to prevent future speech problems, serious orthodontic problems, or interruptions in facial development. The treatment might include a fixed or removable retainer along with a recommendation for speech therapy.

Partner with your family dentist in New Holland for the early detection of tongue thrusting and other developmental disorders.