Tongue Thrust and Dental Alignment


Are you aware of the connection between tongue thrust and dental alignment?

Sometimes teeth are resistant to braces, even after years of orthodontics and retainers.

Adults are sometimes fitted with two or three sets of braces, because their teeth keep resuming their original misaligned positions. These cases are often related to tongue thrusts and forward tongue resting positions.

The tongue may be resting between the teeth and keeping them apart in what is known as an open-bite.

In other cases, the tongue may be pushing forward against the front teeth to exacerbate either an underbite or buck teeth (i.e. overjet).

Our pediatric dentists and orthodontists frequently refer their patients for orofacial myology to diagnose the symptoms of the tongue thrust and retrain the tongue to sit up on the palate where it belongs.

An alternative to tongue thrust therapy is a cage which the dentist hooks to the upper molars.  The cage hangs from the palate about a quarter of an inch into the oral cavity and remains there permanently for many months. This is often a temporary solution to the problem. The cage WILL NOT strengthen or retrain the muscles of the tongue, but it WILL interfere with eating and speech. And once the cage is removed, in all likelihood, the tongue will go back to its habitual pattern and start to reposition the teeth once again. We tell our patients that their braces and cages may win the battle, but their tongues will win the war.

Patients who follow through with their tongue thrust therapy typically go through life with beautiful smiles and excellent dental health.

Anybody considering orthodontics should consult their dental professionals about the possibility of a tongue thrust or a forward tongue resting position.

If the concern is validated, individuals should seek out therapists who have been trained and certified by the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM). Only these professionals have the experience and education to ensure permanent results.

“I feel it is impossible to do great orthodontics without having natural and proper muscle coordination.Jodie K. Schuller and Associates have been essential in helping our patients attain correct breathing and swallowing habits, thereby allowing them to get excellent orthodontic results.”

Gary Hirsh, D.D.S.

“For many of my patients, myofunctional therapy has been the key to the success and stability of their orthodontic treatment.”

Melanie Parker, D.D.S.

How We Can Help

The specialists at Jodie K. Schuller & Associates are professional speech and language therapists, many with over 25 years of experience in communicative disorders. Licensed by the state of California as speech-language pathologists, our therapists have completed advanced training in oral-motor development taught by leading experts in the field such as Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP, and Char Boshart, M.A., CCC-SLP.  This training has prepared our therapists to diagnose and treat oral-motor disorders involving drooling, chewing, swallowing and open-mouth breathing as well as speech production disorders.  Therapists have also been trained through the International Association of Orofacial Mylogy (IAOM) to identify and treat unhealthy tongue thrusts and improper tongue resting postures.  With this advanced training, therapists are prepared to eliminate thumb sucking and to treat individuals who suffer from serious related issues such as Temporomandibular Joint Pain (TMJ), chronic headaches and sleep apnea.

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