What Is a Tongue Crib?

A tongue crib is a habit-breaking appliance that dentists like Dr. Vajahat Yar Khan frequently recommend to parents whose children have thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habits. According to Dr. Yar Khan, children whose thumb sucking and tongue thrusting habits go undiagnosed or untreated, are more likely to need orthodontia in the future.

Speaking from his office at Kidzone Dental in Missouri City, TX, the children’s dentist explains that children who thrust their tongues are usually pushing their tongues forward to close the open space between the teeth and the lips – so as to form a seal in the front of their mouths – and then swallowing. This is referred to by dentists as an infantile pattern of swallowing.

Although it is normal for infants to swallow this way while they are still drinking their mother’s milk or when they are drinking out of a bottle, it is a pattern that should become less common as children get older. If a child is a frequent thumb sucker or tongue thruster, then there is a chance that he will hold onto his infantile pattern of swallowing for a longer period of time, which raises concerns about his oral health.

In order to train children to put their tongues in the correct spot, the Missouri City, TX, children’s dentist recommends introducing pediatric patients to tongue cribs. A tongue crib is like a cage for the mouth. It is an appliance that is held together by rings that are placed on two teeth in the back of the mouth. After putting these rings in place, a Missouri City, TX, children’s dentist would run a wire in the front of the mouth to the back, to anchor the cage so that the child’s tongue cannot move forward and get into the space between the top and bottom of his or her front teeth.

As a children’s dentist in Missouri City, TX, Dr. Yar Khan says he would usually recommend tongue cribs to children ages four and up whose parents had observed them thrusting their tongues or sucking their thumbs incessantly. Although Dr. Yar Khan sometimes recommends that parents sit back and wait to see if their children’s teeth are moving forward before getting a tongue crib, he says some people also look at tongue cribs as a preventative appliance that should be utilized before a problem occurs.

Essentially, Dr. Yar Khan says that tongue cribs train children how to swallow in the right way. Tongue cribs also play a role in preventing any harmful effects on the teeth due to thumb sucking, which can lead to crowding and alignment issues down the road.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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