August 18, 2023

What is Tongue Sucking?

When infants suck their thumb or tongue, it is considered normal behavior. However, when this habit persists into toddlerhood and beyond, it can cause issues such as a misaligned jaw or teeth, speech impediments, and other mouth problems. Known as orofacial myofunctional disorders, these ailments are the result of pressure placed on the roof of the mouth during sucking habits, incorrect swallowing, and weak muscle development in the jaw.

Most children naturally lose their thumb sucking or tongue thrusting as they get older, but it can also be a sign of anxiety or depression in adults. This is why it is important to know what to look out for in your child and seek professional help when necessary.

In order to correct a tongue thrust or thumb sucking problem, your child should be evaluated by a dentist and orthodontist to assess dental or oral abnormalities. Once a diagnosis is made, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that may include a tongue/lip exercise program and other dental or orthodontic treatments.

The goal of a treatment program is to teach the patient to use the tongue in a more natural way to swallow, speak, and rest. A trained speech therapist can create an effective program that is tailored to the specific needs of each patient. The earlier this type of habit is addressed, the easier it is to break. So, don’t wait – ask your dentist or speech pathologist about a tongue thrust/thumb sucking treatment program today!


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