Does your son or daughter have the habit of tongue thrusting while sleeping? Though it is common among infants to push their tongue out while swallowing, it should ideally stop by the age of six. However, among some kids, it leads to the condition called tongue thrust, which is a common orofacial myofunctional disorder (ODM). Having said that, there is absolutely no need to worry. In this article, we take you through some simple exercises that will help stop tongue thrusting while sleeping.
Top Tips To Stop Tongue Thrusting While Sleeping
We will start with a simple exercise that can done in the comfort of your home.
1. Place a sugar-free candy on the tip of the tongue.
2. Now, the tip of the tongue should be placed against the roof of the mouth.
3. Ensure that the tongue is pushing against the gum.
4. Now, bite the teeth together and keep the lips apart.
5. The last step is to swallow. Make sure to keep the teeth together and the lips apart.
Do this exercise twice in the morning as well as evening.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Orofacial myofunctional therapy is another technique used for treating tongue thrust. It involves performing exercises of the cervical and facial muscles. Some of the orofacial myofunctional exercises used for tongue thrust include
1. Lip exercises
2. Tongue exercises
3. Cheek exercises
4. Jaw exercises
5. Breathing exercises
1. Lip Exercises
i. Lip Closure And Competency Exercise
Make your child close his/her lips tightly together. Now make them hold a piece of cardboard/ice cream stick between the upper and lower lip. Let them continue for 5 seconds and this exercise should be repeated for 5 to 10 times. This will aid in improving lip competency.
ii. Lip Puffing Exercise
Ask your child to force air in between the lips and teeth. The next step is to puff out the lips as much as possible.
In this exercise, a whistle is used as a prop. The other option is to purse the lips together for whistling. The benefit is that whistling activates the perioral and cheek muscles.
2. Tongue Exercises
i. Tongue Spot
Ask your child to locate the spot behind the upper incisors on the palate. To explain, incisors are the most visible teeth in your mouth. Make sure that he/she holds the tongue at the spot for 10 seconds. Repeat this activity for 10 times.
ii. Tongue Click
Make your child place their tongue against the roof of the mouth (at the spot). Let them snap it down which generates a clicking or popping noise.
3. Cheek Exercises
A combination of water, tongue movements, and puffing is used in cheek exercises. The benefit is that it strengthens the cheek muscles.
I. Let your child hold water in the mouth. Now they have to shift the water sideways.
II. Alternatively, your kid can puff his/her cheeks with air. Make them shift the air from one cheek to the other. Please ensure that air does not escape from their mouth or nose. Repeat this exercise at least 5 to 10 times 5 times a day.
4. Jaw Exercises
I. Let your kid hold a hand massager close to the jaw for a couple of seconds at a time. This will help stimulate the muscles of mastication (chewing).
II. The next exercise is opening the jaw wide. It should be followed by saying aaahhh!! Continue doing that for 3 to 6 seconds.
5. Breathing Exercises
It is a combination of pranayam, balloon blowing, and holding water in the mouth. Please note that this is done while breathing through the nasal cavity. When it comes to pranayama breathing exercises, it involves inhaling the air and exhaling rapidly through the nose keeping the mouth shut.
In balloon blowing, a deep breath is taken through the nose. This is followed by exhaling the air into a balloon. By exhaling more breaths into the balloon, it is expanded to its utmost capacity. Repeat this exercise for 3 times a day.
Tongue thrusting or propelling the tongue forward during sleep can be remedied through various approaches. A dentist may recommend a dental device or night guard to prevent the habit. Practicing proper tongue posture and restraining tongue movement during the day can help as well. Sleeping on your side, propping up your head, and managing stress and anxiety may also curb unwanted tongue movements at night. With a combination of dental appliances, awareness, and lifestyle changes, you can stop persistent tongue thrusting.