Tongue thrusting is an oral habit of pushing your tongue against the teeth when pronouncing certain words or swallowing. This condition can lead to bad bites or narrow the airway, resulting in sleep apnea. Sometimes even placing the tongue between the front or back teeth or pushing it through the gaps can cause malformation. Unfortunately, this habit does not correct itself. If left unaddressed, it can cause long-term dental issues and a restricted airway. In this case, considering professional dental care is vital. Here are two ways a dentist can help to correct this orofacial myofunctional disorder.
Tongue therapy (myofunctional therapy) is a mouth exercise that focuses on correcting swallowing patterns and tongue resting posture. When you activate the facial muscles to function properly, the oral muscles will follow suit until they rest in a more natural position. To achieve good results, you may need consistent exercise. You can consider in-office or at-home therapy exercises to correct the tongue resting position. The length of the therapy can take 6-12 months, depending on your dedication and cooperation.
A custom oral appliance is another way to correct tongue thrusting. A dentist fits the appliance at the back of the teeth against the roof of the mouth to prevent the tongue from moving forward. The main aim of this appliance is to train the tongue to rest in the normal position and prevent misalignments. It also helps to prevent other habits, such as thumb sucking.
Depending on the severity of your habit, a professional may recommend a removable or fixed tongue thrust appliance. A removable oral appliance may be a good option if the habit is mild. You can remove it to brush your teeth or eat. On the other hand, a fixed appliance is a good solution for severe tongue-thrusting habits. It fits around the back teeth and remains in the mouth until a dentist removes it. Reach out to us for any questions about tongue thrusting.
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