Which Comes First – Braces or Tongue Thrust Therapy?
Q: My 10-year-old son’s orthodontist suggested that he see a Speech Pathologist to correct his tongue thrust. What does it have to do with my son getting braces?
A: Great questions. When you swallow, your tongue should push against the roof of your mouth, right behind your upper teeth. If your tongue pushes against the back of your teeth or protrudes between your teeth when you swallow, you have what is called “tongue thrust”. This often results in an overjet or an open bite, preventing the teeth from closing together. The average person swallows 2000-4000 times per day and exerts as much as 6 pounds of pressure with each swallow. The orthodontist can apply braces and certainly make your son’s teeth look perfect. However, when the braces are removed, the tongue is strong enough to cause his teeth to return to their original position. For this reason, it is important to correct the tongue thrust before he receives braces.
Will Tongue Thrust Therapy Work, If My Child Already Has Braces?
If your son already has braces, that is ok. He should begin tongue thrust therapy as soon as possible. The most important thing is that he graduates from tongue thrust therapy, swallowing the correct way, BEFORE his braces come off. You don’t want to take a chance that his new beautiful teeth move out of alignment because his tongue is still putting pressure on them.
Tongue thrust therapy will train him to swallow correctly, removing the pressure from the back of the teeth and/or preventing the tongue from protruding while swallowing. The goals in therapy are to train and strengthen the tongue muscles necessary for a good swallow and correct resting posture; teach the correct swallow; and make this new swallow a habit.
Sometimes, the person with a tongue thrust also has a “lisp” and this is also corrected in tongue thrust therapy. Tongue thrust therapy requires a certain level of maturation and cooperation and therefore is not recommended before the age of 8. Both children and adults can benefit from tongue thrust therapy.
It is important to note that school speech therapists, as a rule, do not provide tongue thrust therapy because it doesn’t interfere with learning.
For more information regarding tongue thrust, and how to correct it, visit our website. To correct tongue thrust, purchase our simple guide to tongue thrust correcting exercises from our store. Though we are based in Asheville, NC, we ship throughout the United States.