Tongue Thrusts

Orthodontic problems are not just an aesthetic issue. Usually, they cause other, more serious problems, and the improper use of your jaws and teeth have an effect over the entirety of your body. We have already written articles about what an improper bite can do to your neck, back and TMJ ligaments, but certain orthodontic problems can have multiple bad effects directly on your teeth. Crooked teeth are harder to clean and thus more prone to decay, teeth that stick out are frequently drier and more prone to damage and ultimately to decay. But aside from the positioning, orthodontic problems can have other negative effects on the teeth. One of them is discussed at length below.

Tongue thrust swallow

Infants push their tongues forward when they swallow, because they have no teeth, and thus cannot create a vacuum in the mouth, which is absolutely necessary for swallowing. As the teeth grow in, usually this is no longer the case, and you can easily create a vacuum without moving your tongue, or just by pressing it down. But if your jaws do not align properly, or if your teeth do not close properly, you may be swallowing a bunch of air and not have the necessary vacuum to properly swallow at all. The human body corrects this problem by sending the tongue forward involuntarily, thus thrusting it, and the force of this thrust is enough to displace teeth into a fanlike formation. This causes the other consequences of orthodontic problems (improper, painful bite, heightened risk of tooth decay, etc) to become more apparent.

tongue-thrusts

Causes

As mentioned above, the causes of this condition are that there isn’t a vacuum when the patient swallows. This means that moving the tongue is necessary in order to swallow. This could be caused by the jaws not aligning properly: if there is a gap than air can come in, and this needs to be fixed by the tongue covering up the hole. If the teeth are crowded in some places, or are too far apart, then there will be gaps that will also cause this. The tongue thrusting will of course exacerbate the problems.

Solutions

Usually this problem can be fixed with a quite routine set of orthodontic interventions. Routine orthodontic treatment with pretty much any device will fix this problem. If the problem is quite severe, then only traditional fixed braces will do the trick, but usually even aligners are plenty enough to correct this problem to a suitable extent.

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