Toddlers and Tongue Health

How often do you pay attention to your toddler’s tongue? Tongues are incredibly important for forming words, eating, and chewing. Unfortunately, some toddlers may develop bad tongue habits or have a condition, like tongue tie, that affects how they use their tongue. Our pediatric dentist in Ponte Vedra can examine your child’s teeth, tongue, and gums to determine if there are any issues and if those issues need to be corrected in order to prevent speech and bite problems, like the ones listed below. 

Tongue Thrusting

Tongue thrusting is a common problem in toddlers. This occurs when they press the tongue against the lips when they swallow. While this habit may seem harmless, it can lead to an overbite that will need braces to correct when your child is a teenager. In order to stop tongue thrusting and reduce the chances of your child needing braces, it’s important to consult our pediatric dentist and a speech pathologist if you notice your child thrusting his or her tongue against the lips when they swallow.

Tongue Tie

Tongue tie is a physical condition that appears at birth. The obvious symptom is a tongue that appears to be too short. It is caused by a tight, thick, or short lingual frenulum, which is a band of tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. Tongue tie can affect a baby’s ability to breast or bottle feed. As your child gets older, it can result in speech problems and how your child eats his or her food. The good news is that the procedure for correcting tongue tie is quick and relatively simple.

Bad Breath

If your toddler has chronic bad breath, it could be due to excess bacteria in the mouth and on the gums and tongue. As parents, we do our best to properly clean our toddler’s teeth, but sometimes we can forget about the tongue. If the tongue isn’t regularly cleaned along with the teeth, it can lead to bad breath and increase your child’s risk of developing cavities in his or her baby teeth.

Cleaning Your Toddler’s Tongue

When your child was a baby, you probably cleaned his or her teeth with a soft piece of water-dampened gauze or a finger brush. This routine shouldn’t end as your child takes over the brushing and flossing on their own. You should work on instructing your toddler on how to brush his or her teeth properly and how to brush their tongue. 

When it comes to instilling a routine, it’s important to brush all the tooth surfaces first, then gently brush your toddler’s tongue. If your child is one or two years old, you may still be using a damp piece of gauze. However, as your child nears school age, it may be time to switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush. To make it easier for your child to learn how to clean their tongue, you may have to have your toddler stick out his or her tongue so that you can brush it and let them watch by having them stand in front of a mirror.

Pediatric Dental Appointments for Your Toddler 

Dental care visits at our Ponte Vedra family dentistry are always friendly and professional. From the moment you walk in, we will do everything we can to make you and your child feel comfortable, This includes having a family-friendly waiting room with lots of toys and activities that your child can play with while you wait for our pediatric dentist. 

Once in our dental exam room, our dentist will explain each procedure and the examination in terms your child can understand. If you have any questions about the issues regarding proper oral hygiene for your toddler, you can ask them at your dental appointment.

To schedule your toddler’s next dental appointment with our pediatric dentist in Ponte Vedra, give us a call at 904-373-5120 today!