CROWDED TEETH & BRACES
Crowded Teeth & Braces
How Tongue Thrust Affects Braces and Impedes Orthodontic Therapy
Our tongues are a lot stronger than most of us think. Over time, pressure from the tongue can cause serious problems for individuals who wear braces by actually working against the therapeutic effects of these devices. We’ve talked about the condition known as tongue thrust elsewhere, but now let’s focus on how tongue thrust affects braces and the teeth.
When a person wearing braces has a tongue thrust habit, the tongue constantly pushes forward, exerting pressure on the back side of the teeth. This interferes with the ability of the braces to re-align the teeth. The result is not good:
The patient will likely need to wear his or her braces for a longer period of time
After the braces are removed, the tongue thrust will cause the teeth to return to their original, misaligned position
This crowding of the teeth may require another round of braces at an additional cost
Many young dental patients may be able to avoid wearing braces altogether if symptoms of tongue thrust are caught early and are treated by a myofunctional therapist. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of children between 5 and 8 years old (the period when permanent teeth begin to come in) exhibit some degree of tongue thrust. Myofunctional therapy can be the first step toward diagnosing and treating this condition.
Benefits of Therapy for Individuals Whose Tongue Thrust Affects Braces
I regularly see a tongue thrust habit in patients who wear braces. My job is to assess the extent and severity of the problem and then create a specific exercise program for the individual. The end result is that the patient learns to re-train the tongue and certain facial muscles to no longer perform the tongue thrust habit.