Tongue Thrusts

Abnormal tongue patterns like a tongue thrust, are problems that need to be corrected with orthodontics.  Watch this video by Buffalo Orthodontist Dr. Steven J. Hietanen to learn more.

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  • What does it mean to us when we recognize that a patient has a poorly functioning tongue? The tongue can have a tremendous impact on our ability to treat this patient effectively. It also determines whether we will attain stability afterwards.
  • A properly functioning tongue rests against the roof of the mouth during breathing and swallowing. Additionally, it is placed behind the upper front teeth when swallowing. Patients with a tongue thrust protrude the tongue between the anterior teeth. Alternately, they may bring it forward against their front teeth during the swallow. Other patients may have a lateral tongue thrust. This means that the tongue is placed between their posterior teeth and stabilizes the teeth during the swallowing pattern.
  • Correcting abnormal tongue patterns is crucial in order to achieve stable orthodontic outcomes. We can do certain things to treat these conditions. However, it is more important to correct problems with a structural relationship first, and tackle training the swallow and resting posture of the tongue afterwards.
  • It’s hard to expect a tongue to fit into a space that’s too small for it, even if it might have been caused by the tongue. So we often perform some preliminary orthodontic treatment and then use appliances in an attempt to retrain a swallow. If we are unsuccessful in our efforts, we usually refer the patient to a functional therapist or a speech pathologist to treat an abnormal swallowing pattern.
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