What Exactly Is A Tongue Crib?

Dentist Blog

A tongue crib is an oral appliance used to help break habits in patients. It is especially useful for children who have developed habits of tongue thrusting or thumb sucking, which tend to go undiagnosed for a long time and need help correcting later in life. Here's all you need to know about tongue cribs and how they help.

Why Does Tongue Thrusting Need To Be Treated?

You may think thrusting the tongue in and out of the mouth isn't that bad for you, but it really can be. The name is given to the process of sticking the tongue forward to sit between the teeth and lips to create a seal when swallowing. It's a habit formed from breastfeeding and drinking from bottles, and usually is later changed when moving onto cups.

Like thumb sucking, if the habit is allowed to continue, the oral health is affected. The muscles grow and adapt differently to the way they are supposed to. It opens the mouth up to more bacteria and cavities. New Park Ortho states that the teeth are pushed out of alignment from tongue thrusting, as about four pounds of pressure are pushed onto the teeth between 1,200 and 2,000 times a day.

What Is the Tongue Crib?

A tongue crib is a small appliance that is placed directly into the mouth. It has two rings, which are placed on teeth at the back of the mouth. The rings connect to a small cage that sits in the mouth. This cage prevents the tongue from moving too far forward, acting as a deterrent that eventually turns into retraining the muscle. Your child will learn how to swallow properly, without putting the extra strain on the teeth and gums.

Are Tongue Cribs Effective?

There are mixed opinions on tongue cribs. Some people found that they were extremely effective, while others have said that they needed therapy and other treatments, too. The problem is that the person is forced into learning a new way of swallowing, instead of gradually adapting. Instead of helping to strengthen the muscles and learn the best way to swallow through practice, the tongue is punished for its other motions.

Some children go back to old habits when it is removed. The good news is that some dentists will help with retraining at the same time to ensure full treatment.

The tongue crib is completely safe to use and can be effective. If your child has developed bad habits and you've noticed issues with alignment, it may be worth talking to your dentist about one of these appliances.


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