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Tongue Thrust Habits: Causes, Effects and How to Fix Them

Tongue thrusting is the habit of putting the tongue in the incorrect position during swallowing, by placing the tongue too far forward or to the sides. As an infantile swallowing pattern, tongue thrusting is exhibited by children from birth, making it acceptable to have this swallowing pattern up to the age of four. While most children will outgrow the infantile swallowing pattern, some children continue to place their tongue too far forward or to the sides, due to many factors.

 

What Causes Tongue Thrusting?

 

Tongue thrusting can be caused by several things including:

 

  • A prolonged thumb or finger sucking habit
  • Mouth breathing that causes the tongue’s posture to be very low in the mouth. Often times, people who breathe through their mouths have on-going nasal congestion, allergies, or physical obstructions that cause this behavior.
  • Swallowing difficulties resulting from enlarged adenoids, tonsillitis or frequent sore throats
  • Some artificial nipples used to feed infants
  • Hereditary factors
  • Neurological problems
  • Physiological abnormalities
  • A large tongue

 

Tongue Thrusting Effects

 

The continuous pressure exerted from thrusting the tongue can push the teeth forward to cause them to become misaligned. When the teeth are not in proper alignment, it can adversely affect the bite and jaw. Most people with a tongue thrust habit tend to have an open bite wherein the upper and lower front teeth do not come together or meet as they should.

 

Treatment for Tongue Thrusting

 

Dr. Peralta can treat tongue thrusting by fitting the patient with a special fixed appliance. This appliance is called a tongue crib and it helps break the tongue thrusting habit, while assisting in re-establishing a more proper biting pattern. This appliance works very well and is cemented in semi-permanently. Braces can also be used to bring the teeth into proper alignment. If the tongue thrusting has affected the speech, a consultation with a speech therapist may be recommended.

 

Contact Your Orthodontist in West Seattle

 

If you have any questions about tongue thrusting or how it’s treated, please feel free to contact us as we’re always here to help! If you suspect that your child has a tongue thrusting habit, we encourage you to request an appointment with Dr. Peralta today for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis.

 

Boy brushing teeth in bathroom

Regular vs. Electric Toothbrushes: Which is Better for Your Teeth?

We hear this question time and again from our patients: should I get a manual or electric toothbrush? Is there really a difference? Which one is better for my teeth if I’m wearing braces? To try to find an answer, let’s explore the difference between manual and electric toothbrushes a little more.

 

Powered vs. Unpowered Toothbrushes

 

Manual toothbrushes have the advantage of familiarity and simplicity, and make no mistake: with proper brushing technique, you can take great care of your teeth with a regular toothbrush. So long as you brush properly with a fresh manual toothbrush for a full 2 minutes, twice a day, your teeth will be in great shape. Not to mention, manual toothbrushes are easier to transport, require no batteries or charging, and are very difficult to break. That said, they do require more work when brushing, and without proper brushing technique they can be far less effective. Additionally, there’s no way to time how long you brush with them unless you set a timer – without that, you’re just guessing.

 

Electric toothbrushes, on the other hand, often come with all the bells and whistles. They deliver more results with less work, often include 2 minute timers so you know how long to brush, and have been shown to remove more plaque and debris than manuals. However, electric toothbrushes need to be charged, are more fragile and difficult to transport, and carry a hefty price tag.

 

So which is best? Ultimately, it’s up to you. Both have pros and cons and both can keep your teeth clean and healthy – it’s just a matter of whether you value simplicity or convenience more.

 

Contact Your West Seattle Orthodontist

 

Have more questions about taking care of your teeth? We’re always happy to talk. Feel free to call us at 206.244.7800 for our Burien office or 206.932.4577 for our West Seattle office, reach out to us at our contact page, or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment at either of our offices. We can’t wait to hear from you, and we hope to see you back at this blog for more tips and info on keeping your teeth healthy and clean!

woman smiling with mint leaves on tongue

How To Keep Your Breath Fresh

Tips & Tricks From Your Local Seattle Orthodontist

Dr. Peralta, your local Burien and West Seattle, WA orthodontist recognizes that many of his patients are concerned about bad breath while wearing braces. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common problem that can cause embarrassment and concern. Keeping your mouth fresh while wearing braces, however, is not difficult to do. The main reason people wearing braces suffer from halitosis is due primarily to bacteria in the mouth having more surfaces to cling to and multiply from more easily.

 

Be Extra Diligent With Your Oral Hygiene

 

It is always important to practice good oral hygiene, but it is even more important when you are wearing braces. Follow these guidelines for best results:

 

  1. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
  2. While brushing your teeth, make sure to also brush the gums, the roof of your mouth, and your tongue. These are all areas where bacteria can linger and cause your breath to begin to smell.
  3. You should be using a soft toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste when brushing and do not forget to switch to a new toothbrush every three months or whenever the bristles wear down.

Mouthwashes, Water Picks, & Breath Mints

 

There are many types of anti-bacterial mouthwashes on the market that can help eliminate much of the bacteria that leads to bad breath. Using an anti-bacterial mouthwash once per day can help keep halitosis at bay. Additionally, water picks, which are dental hygiene devices that safely and powerfully blast areas of your mouth with a thin jet of water, can help flush away trapped food debris that may be left behind after brushing and flossing. Finally, while people wearing braces should not chew gum or eat sticky candies and snacks, sucking on breath mints is completely allowed and a good way to keep your mouth fresh when you are unable to brush your teeth during a certain period.

 

Have A Question? Give Us A Call!

 

The key to keeping your breath fresh is keeping your mouth clean by battling foul-smelling halitosis at its source, which are the bacteria in your mouth. If you have any additional questions or concerns about keeping fresh breath with braces, or if you would like to request an appointment, please feel free to contact us at 206.244.7800 for our Burien office or 206.938.3100 for our West Seattle office. We are happy to assist you in any way we can, and thank you for trusting us as your orthodontic care provider. We look forward to seeing your smile in our offices soon!

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Peralta Orthodontics