While most parents are certainly aware of the potential that thumb-sucking has to make their children candidates for orthodontic treatment, fewer are aware of the potential of “tongue thrusting” to disrupt tooth alignment. While a normal swallow involves placement of the tongue on the roof of the mouth, tongue thrusting is described by a swallowing mechanism that pushes the tongue forward against the front teeth. As a result of this abnormal exertion of pressure, the top front teeth are pushed forward to create a gap between them and the opposing teeth. Most children outgrow tongue thrust swallowing no later than by age six. If not, the dentist can introduce treatment that helps to break the habit. 

One way to keep early actions from becoming future problems is to turn to professional help. We present this column in the hopes of educating the general public about the benefits of keeping on top of your oral health. If we can help, either by answering questions or by providing comprehensive dental care, call us for an appointment. Offering all the dental services you and your family require makes our office the ideal place to achieve optimum oral health.

P.S. Children exhibit a tongue-thrust pattern from birth because it is an infantile swallowing pattern, but they generally develop the mature pattern of swallowing by age four.