It has been suggested that the size, function and posture of the tongue might have some effects on the surrounding oral environment.
Tongue thrusting is the habit of pushing the tongue forward between the upper and lower front teeth when swallowing.
However, it has been debated whether tongue function would lead to malocclusion or it only adapts to local changes of occlusion. Some investigators consider the size and dysfunction of the tongue has essential etiological factors in the development of malocclusion, others believe that tongue thrust swallowing should be considered a result rather than the cause of malocclusion.
One consequence of thumb sucking is tongue thrusting. The brain is ‘taught’ to thrust the tongue forward even when the thumb is not inserted.
This can cause continued problems with the slow movement outward of the upper teeth although the lower teeth are often corrected by this process.
If a young child sucks his or her thumb at an early age – and does not stop the habit by the age of four, the upper and lower teeth can become altered in a way that creates a dental condition called “open bite.”
Tongue thrusting is a very treatable condition, but it involves the insight of dentists, physicians and speech specialists to ensure the condition is treated well. When identified early, this guidance will prove beneficial to the patient and lead to a lifetime of good oral health. With exercises, the patient can learn not to thrust and the tension in the upper lip will help correct things naturally.
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