WHAT IS TONGUE THRUST?
Does your tongue go forward between your front teeth when you swallow? When you bite into a sandwich, does the lettuce slip out? You have an “Anterior Open Bite.” This means the front teeth cannot touch at all. It is usually the result of Thumb sucking as a child. It also has the bad effect of creating a very high palate. The palate is below the maxillary sinus. So a high palate interferes with normal breathing. With normal swallowing, the tongue touches the roof of the mouth and the food is swallowed. With tongue thrusters, the tongue must go between the front teeth, so the food is not ejected out of the mouth during swallowing. Besides the anterior open bite, the child can become a “mouth breather” These conditions remain into adult life. The anterior open bite and the high palate are permanent problems.
So it is best to get your child to stop sucking the thumb at age 2 !/2 to 3. This also applies to using a pacifier too much. The results are similar. Damage does not occur before 3 years of age. But after 4 years of age, the damage increases as long the child continues to suck the thumb. A good way to get rid of the pacifier is to tie it to a helium balloon, let it go, and tell the child it is going to heaven. Gentle, but persistent urging is the best way to get a child to stop sucking the thumb.
If your front teeth touched when you were a young adult, and they gradually started to come apart, it could be the result of a degenerative arthritis. This diagnosis must be confirmed by CAT scans and medical testing. Arthritis patients usually don’t have the high palate.
Both conditions are treatable. If jaw pain is also present, the treatment is more complicated.
If you suffer from TMJ related to childhood thumb sucking and need a TMJ specialist please call Dr. Mark Z. Yamamoto, DDS, MAGD at 714-847-9900 for immediate assistance.
ANTERIOR OPEN BITE:
This is the condition in which the front teeth cannot touch. It can be the result of Thumb sucking, over use of a pacifier, or some arthritic conditions... Read more