Tongue thrusting is a natural reflex in babies that are breastfed. It is a habit that involves pushing the tongue forward between the lower and upper front teeth while swallowing. The proper way of swallowing is by pushing the tip of the tongue against the gum on top of the back of the upper front teeth instead of between the lower and upper teeth.

As a parent, you need to know why tongue thrusting happens in toddlers, how can it affect children’s oral health, and what complications can arise when the child grows. We have also added the treatments of the habit at the end of the post.

Tongue Thrusting Leads to Open Bite

  • There are many causes that are responsible for this habit and discerning why it occurs depends mostly on the individual. If a baby typically sucks his or her thumb from a very early age and does not stop this habit by age four, the lower and upper teeth will become altered and it will create the dental condition commonly known as an ‘open bite’.

Treating Open Bite with Appliances

  • Sometimes a dentist may prescribe an oral appliance that is placed in the upper arch and palate in order to discourage a toddler from sucking their thumb. This will help create normal lip movement in the child which will realign the teeth and close any space between them. 

If appliances are used, it is very important to make sure the teeth around the appliance are cleaned around them daily with a fluoride rinse. If they are not cleaned regularly, cavities may start to take place.

How Tongue Thursting Affects Adult Children

  • Did you know that tongue thrusting can occur in adult children and adults alike? If the person develops a narrow facial structure with a naturally large tongue as they grow older, their speech and language will be affected. 

This can be remedied through speech and language therapy. This therapy will teach an individual to control tongue thrusting even if it was a habit the individual developed as a child. Treating tongue thrusting is very important since it can lead to several oral conditions that can result in an open bite problem.

  • Babies, on the other hand, while learning to speak words correctly, can have difficulty eating food with this habit. This needs to be taken care of immediately. Consult your dentist for the best solutions.

Treatments of Tongue Thrusting

  • There are many treatments available for tongue thrusting. Some of the most common treatments combine exercise, therapy, or appliances to guide the child into learning how to control their tongue.

A diagnosis of tongue thrusting is mostly done by a pediatrician for young children and a physician or a general dentist for adults. 


Tongue thrusting is a treatable condition regardless of the age of the person. It requires you to visit a dentist on a regular basis to ensure that the condition is treated. It is important to take your child to a pediatrician as soon as you discover that your child is involved in the habit.

If the condition is identified early, the guidance from the dentist will prove quite beneficial for the child and they will be able to enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. Book your appointment today with one of our dentists at Icon Dental Center Everett or Seattle. 

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