Your tongue is an important part of your mouth that helps you taste, chew, and swallow. However, it can sometimes interfere with other aspects of your oral health. Fortunately, Dr. Cindy Flanagan and our Houston dental team are available to assist you with any and all concerns related to your smile. Some of our patients struggle with their tongue pushing against their teeth. This condition is called tongue thrust. It can be uncomfortable to deal with, interfere with your daily life, and even cause your teeth to become crooked. If you have this condition, however, there are many things you can do to remedy it. In the following blog, we explain what you can do if your tongue pushes against your teeth.
Symptoms of Tongue Thrust
The most obvious sign of tongue thrust is that your tongue pushes against your teeth. You might be able to feel this occurring, especially when you swallow. However, some symptoms are subtler. You may suffer from this condition if:
- The way you swallow, speak, and eat looks different from the way others do. Tongue thrust can affect these behaviors.
- Your front teeth are becoming misaligned or gapped over time. The gradual pressure of the tongue against them can cause orthodontic issues.
- You have a narrower face and a larger tongue. This could be the cause of your condition, or it could be a result of it.
These are just a few of the signs of this condition. For an accurate, comprehensive diagnosis, you should see Dr. Flanagan for an examination.
What Causes this Condition?
Tongue thrust most often occurs in children. According to Registered Dental Hygienist magazine, thumb sucking and mouth breathing often lead to tongue thrust: “thumb suckers and pacifier users should be talked to at an early age, and terminating the habit before permanent teeth erupt is advantageous…A mouth breather generally becomes a tongue thrust swallower.” Tongue thrust typically develops from these behaviors. In addition, some patients may have a proclivity for this condition due to the natural structure of their faces and mouths. No matter what, if you notice your tongue pushing against your teeth, know that this is not a healthy or ideal circumstance, and it should be addressed.
Treatment Options for Tongue Thrust
Many younger patients who experience tongue thrust simply grow out of this symptom naturally. If your child appears to push his or her tongue against his or her front teeth, Dr. Flanagan can assist you in monitoring this situation, as well as offering advice for remedying this condition. Generally, the treatment options for tongue thrust include:
- Mouth exercises. Strengthening and retraining the oral and facial muscles and tissues can help them rest in a more appropriate position.
- Oral appliances. If you suffer from tongue thrust, Dr. Flanagan and our team may suggest fitting you for a customized mouth guard, which you will wear part or all of the day to prevent your tongue from pressing against your teeth.
- Behavioral changes. The way you hold your tongue can be a habitual pattern, especially in younger patients. Working with children to modify their tongue sucking, pacifier use, and mouth breathing can be of great help in treating tongue thrust. Even in adults, being aware of your oral habits can help you overcome related problems.
- Orthodontia. One of the most common repercussions of tongue thrust is crookedness and misalignment of the affected teeth. Orthodontic treatment may be required to straighten your teeth. Dr. Flanagan offers Invisalign, an orthodontic therapy that involves correcting crookedness with a series of clear, plastic aligners.
These are just a few of the possibilities to handle this condition. Dr. Flanagan can create a customized treatment plan based on your specific needs and preferences.
Does Your Tongue Push Against Your Teeth?
Dr. Flanagan and our team can assist you! Contact our Houston dental practice today to find out more and schedule an appointment.