Tongue Thrust Information, Mouth Breathing & Adenoid Facies

A common disorder familiar to the public is “tongue thrust", where the tongue rests against or between the front or side teeth during swallowing rather than lifting up into the palate (roof of the mouth).

Tongue thrusting frequently occurs with a low, forward resting posture of the tongue, with or without a lips apart posture. Just as the controlled continuous forces of orthodontic appliances (braces) can move teeth, abnormal resting postures and functions in the oral cavity can contribute to the development of dental malocclusions such as incorrectly positioned teeth, an improper bite relationship or other problems related to oral or facial muscle dysfunction or a malformation of the bones of the dental arches.

Tongue Thrust Is NOT the Problem! 

I struggled for years to get help for my daughter's tongue thrust that I diagnosed at 2 years of age. What I did not realize then is that the tongue thrust swallow was not causing the damage to her teeth. It was actually the abnormal resting posture of her tongue too far forward int he mouth and NOT resting on the palate! For most patients, this is due to an airway problem and not an actual swallowing or tongue problem. 

However, once the tongue begins to rest anywhere other than the palate, serious issues arise causing recessed jaw, overjet of upper teeth, and sleeping/breathing issues. Most of the damage in tongue thrust happens at night! The speech errors, if any, are simply a symptom of a larger problem. 

My Daughter Before
mckenna before pics w lines.jpg
My Daughter After
mckenna after pics w lines.jpg

I typically copy past the information into a WORD document and then print it out and go through and highlight some of the important aspects and review it in the meeting, especially for those children I am dismissing that could not correct their lisps due to the tongue thrust or as justification as to why I am not placing the child for therapy. I usually helps explain it better than I can and parents react differently to material in print then they do when we just 'say it'. 

Mouth Breathing-- Adenoid Facies

Many People do not realize the impact mouth breathing has on the face of a child whose bone structure is still developing .For many kids, their face will morph into a crescent moon profile or "long-face" shape. 

I have personally witnessed this in a set of twins.  One a mouth breather, one not.

The difference in their face shape was shocking and happened so slowly over the years that it went unnoticed.  If you suspect mouth breathing, refer the child to the nurse to refer to the ENT.  If you don't have a process in place for this in your school, consider being the one to advocate for it.  The links below can explain this better and will help you to understand what this condition can  do to a child's face.  It is called Adenoid Facies