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As we grow up, we are told “drink your milk” for strong teeth and bones but that saying often gets forgotten as we get older. Keeping our bones and teeth healthy throughout life should be a high priority for aall of us. It allows us to prevent injuries as well as illness. Women can be especially susceptible to bone issues as they age. It has been reported that women can lose as much as 20% of the calcium in their bones after menopause. Good  nutrition, regular exercise, and maintaining proper oral hygiene become doubly important as we get older.

Tips To Maintain Teeth and Bones

-Regular Medical and Dental Check-Ups – Keep regular dental examination appointments. These visits should include a full dental examination, bone mineral density and bone mass testing.

Maintain Good Posture – Keeping good posture will keep your bones and muscles aligned properly. This should be maintained in your daily life but also when exercising.

-Calcium & Casein Intake – Women over age 50 need 1000-1200 mg calcium (key to strong bones) a day from a combination of food and supplements. Check the Nutrition Facts label on the foods you eat regularly to see how much calcium you are getting from them, even the milk used in coffee. Every 10% of the Daily Value is equal to 100 mg of calcium. Dental Bonus: The casein in milk products helps fortify tooth surfaces against acids.

-Eat Plenty of Fruits & Vegetables – We should strive to consume at least 5 servings per day. Fruits and vegetables have many of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for bones. This includes magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Chewing fibrous vegetables like celery also stimulates salivary production. Increased saliva in the mouth will clean teeth and protect tooth enamel by diluting and washing away bacteria and food debris.

-Alcohol & Gum – Moderate drinking is actually been proven to be good for you. The equivalent of 1-2 glasses of wine a day has been reported to protect the bones of menopausal women. Sugarless gum containing xylitol can slow the action of bacteria that cause dental cavities. Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria. They simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol rich environment.  This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases.

-Fluids & Fluoride – Dry mouth increases the risk for oral diseases when the antimicrobial substances found in saliva are in short supply. Drinking fluoridated water serves double duty by keeping you hydrated and providing a source of fluoride which is needed to protect the teeth against tooth decay throughout life.


Staying healthy is never an easy task but to live a high quality life we must do our best. Following certain guidelines can really improve the quality of our lives as well as our loved ones. As always see your dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Tongue Thrusting is a muscular habit of the tongue. It is an action which occurs while swallowing, speaking and at rest. The tongue is thrusted forward and and pushes outward onto the front teeth.

Tongue Thrusting Marielaina Perrone DDS

Early Diagnosis of Tongue Thrusting can prevent long term issues.

It is estimated that we swallow between 1,300 and 2,000 times per day with about 4-5 lbs of pressure per swallow. This constant pressure of the tongue against the teeth will cause the teeth to be forced out of alignment. Children will also sometimes perform tongue thrusting when at rest. This is called nervous thrusting and is a habit that is difficult to correct.

Causes of Tongue Thrusting

After countless studies, there has never been a definitive answer as to why tongue thrusting occurs. There are some ideas as to why tongue thrusting happens. These include:

1) Thumbsucking habit. This builds forward thrusting habits of the tongue, and subsequently, puts extreme pressure on front teeth.

2) Use of artificial nipples on bottles for feeding babies. The texture and rigidity of some nipples will cause the baby to abnormal thrust his or her tongue more than natural breast feeding.

3) Mouth Breathers. Children who breath through their mouths can cause the posture of the tongue to be very low in the mouth. Nasal congestion, allergies, or other nasal obstructions may contribute to this.

4) Swallowing Difficulties. Children sometimes can have difficulty swallowing from enlarged adenoids, enlarged tonsils, or frequent sore throats.

5) Anatomically large tongue. A child with a tongue that is too big for his or her mouth will cause issues with swallowing.

6) Genetics. A child’s jaw line angle may predispose them to tongue thrusting.

7) Muscular, neurological, or other physiological abnormalities

8) Short Lingual Frenum. Also called being tongue tied.

9) Anterior open bite. When there is an anterior open bite, you can not close your front teeth, and you have trouble closing the lips together. Often, a child with an open bite will also have their tongue protruding beyond their lips. This is sometimes due to an abnormally large tongue.

10) Orthodontics. The change in bite and possible constriction of tongue space may contribute to tongue thrusting.

Types of Tongue Thrusting

1) Anterior thrust. This occurs when the lower lip pulls the lower incisors inward, and the upper incisors are extremely protruded. The anterior tongue thrusting is frequently accompanied by a strong muscle of the chin.

2) Unilateral thrust.  This occurs when their is an open bite on one side or the other but not both.

Tongue Thrusting Marielaina Perrone DDS

4) Bilateral thrust. Posterior teeth from the first bicuspid through back molars can be open on both sides and the anterior bite is closed. This type of tongue thrusting is the most difficult to treat.

5) Bilateral anterior open bite. In this type the only teeth that touch are the molars. The bite is completely open on both sides, including the front teeth. A large tongue is often found.

6) Closed bite thrust. In this type of tongue thrusting both the upper and lower teeth are spread apart and flared out. The closed bite thrust is typically a double protrusion.

Is Tongue Thrusting Common?

It is actually quite common to encounter a child between the ages of 5-8 years old with a tongue thrusting issue. Recent studies have shown between 70-90% of children had a tongue thrusting issue that could contribute to an orthodontic or speech problem. In the United States alone between 20 and 80 % of all orthodontic patients exhibit some form of tongue thrusting issue.

Issues Associated with Tongue Thrusting

The force of the tongue against the teeth is an important factor in contributing to misalignment of teeth. Many orthodontists have had the discouraging experience of completing dental treatment, with great results, only to discover that the patient had a tongue thrusting swallowing pattern. This continuous habit will put pressure on the teeth and eventually push them out of alignment and reverse the orthodontic work.

Speech is not usually affected by the tongue thrusting swallowing pattern. The “S” sound (lisping) is the one most affected. The lateral lisp (air forced on the side of the tongue rather than forward) shows dramatic improvement when the tongue thrust is also corrected. However, one problem is not always associated with the other.

At what age does this happen most?

Most children exhibit a tongue thrusting issue from birth because it is considered an infantile swallowing pattern. It is perfectly normal to have this swallowing pattern up to about age 4. Most children outgrow this swallowing pattern and develop the mature pattern of swallowing. Thus they avoid developing a tongue thrust. If the tongue thrusting pattern is not outgrown by age 4 the thrusting gets stronger and becomes a real issue for development.

Tongue Thrusting Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing tongue thrusting can be very difficult. Usually the people who diagnose this will be orthodontists, general dentists, pediatricians or speech therapists. In many cases it is not detected until the child is a bit older and they have a speech or dental problem that needs correcting.

Correction is possible with commitment and cooperation of child and parent. Studies have shown that successful correction of tongue thrusting occurs in 75% of treated cases. Failures occur from lack of commitment by child and/or parent and also when there is a physical or mental developmental issue.

Usually, the tongue thrusting swallowing pattern may be treated in two ways:

1) Correction by MyoFunctional Therapy or Tongue Therapy. This type of therapy is an exercise technique that allows for re-educating the tongue muscles. It is sometimes referred to as physical therapy for the tongue. This is usually performed by a speech therapist through in-office visits and at-home exercises. The length of therapy is often based on the patient and parents cooperation and dedication to following instructions and practice routinely. This type of therapy has proven time and again to give the highest percentage of favorable outcomes.

2) Fabrication of a custom appliance. This appliance is placed in the mouth by the dentist or orthodontist. It is usually not very successful. It does nothing to retrain the tongue so it really has little  long term value.


Tongue thrusting is the reason for misalignment and bite problems for many. Once diagnosed, it can be addressed and treated. Nearly 50% of all patients seeing an orthodontist have tongue thrusting issues. It is important to know if tongue thrusting is an issue for your child, especially before the end phase of orthodontic treatment, so that it can be corrected before a reversion back to malocclusion results. The last thing you want is to lose that pretty smile you’ve worked so hard to attain!