Tongue Thrust with Braces

Tongue Thrust with Braces

Braces are becoming more common every day, with around 4 million people in the US currently wearing them. But should you get them if you have a tongue thrust? Or is there a better way to treat this condition? Below is advice from Fravel Brewer on treating tongue thrust with braces. 

What is tongue thrusting?

Tongue thrust, also known as orofacial myofunctional disorder, is the action of pushing your tongue against the back of your teeth or between your teeth while swallowing. While it may sound like a minor issue, this exertion of pressure over time can cause your teeth to move, creating gaps between them or causing issues with permanent teeth and jawbone alignment. Most often seen in children, with 40-80% of children between the ages of 4 and 6 having it, it can persist into adulthood if not treated early. 

What causes tongue thrust?

Tongue thrust has many causes, most of which occur during childhood. While many children use a pacifier or bottle, allowing them to continue using these past age four or five could cause tongue thrust. This problem can also appear after prolonged thumbsucking (see here for some tips on helping wean your kids from the paci, bottle, or thumb). Some children develop tongue thrust in response to allergies and congestion, as they have to continually breathe through their mouth as opposed to their nose. Kids with larger tonsils can also overcompensate for this same breathing issue and additional swallowing issues by developing tongue thrust. 

Sometimes kids are born with conditions that make them prone to developing tongue thrust. If they have a narrow upper jaw or are born with a tongue-tie, they are at greater risk of developing tongue thrust as they grow. 

Can you fix tongue thrust with braces?

Tongue thrust can be treated with orthodontic intervention, although addressing tongue thrust during braces treatment might not be the best course of action. While wearing braces, the wires are putting pressure on your teeth to push them into position; if you have tongue thrust, you are putting pressure on your teeth from the opposite direction simultaneously. This can hinder your treatment by slowing it down or reversing it. 

Before putting braces on, orthodontists can treat patients with tongue thrust through the use of a tongue habit appliance. This treatment holds the tongue in place while swallowing, gradually forcing your body to correct this habit. It also helps fix any issues with swallowing that are contributing to the tongue thrust. 

Another option is oral myofunctional therapy. This involves reteaching the face and mouth muscles to function correctly while swallowing. 

If you’ve developed tongue thrust because of allergies, the associated breathing issues should be fixed before attempting any orthodontic treatment. Once these therapies and treatments are complete, braces are a good option to realign any crooked teeth since they will no longer be impeded by tongue thrust. 

If you have tongue thrust and are considering orthodontic treatment, trust the expert orthodontic team at Fravel Brewer to help you decide the best course of action. Please contact us for a free consultation!

Fravel Brewer Orthodontics has been helping patients achieve beautiful smiles as the preferred orthodontist in Winter Garden, Ocoee, and West Orange County, Florida for almost 30 years. Treatment options for kids and adults include Invisalign, Invisalign Teen, ceramic braces, and silver braces. Call us at (407) 656-0001 to schedule a free consultation today!