Tongue Sucking: Is it Harmful or Not?

Overview: Tongue-Sucking

The behavior of tongue sucking might give the impression that you are sucking on hard candy or lozenges.

Although less common than thumb or finger sucking, tongue sucking can nonetheless result in pain, discomfort, and self-consciousness. The illness has an impact on both adults and children.

If you or someone you love has developed a tongue-sucking habit, there are medical and at-home treatments that can be beneficial. To learn more about how to break the practice of sucking your tongue, continue reading.

Possible reasons

Tongue Sucking

There are a few possible causes for tongue-sucking. It might be the result of a prescription drug, a bad habit from childhood, or a health condition. In young people, non-nutritive sucking, or sucking without a bottle or for nourishment, has been used as a sedative since childhood. A review of research from 2014 According to a reliable source, children will often suck a pacifier or their finger until they are four years old as a comfort measure, particularly right before a nap or bedtime.

As a non-nutritive habit, sucking frequently coexists with other consoling behaviors like gripping a doll, toy animal, or blanket. It’s possible that some kids won’t “grow out of” tongue-sucking by the anticipated age. This can be connected to a physical health condition or the ongoing demand for security and anxiety alleviation.

Tongue-sucking can occasionally coexist with other illnesses. A tongue push, sometimes referred to as a reverse swallow, is one example. The tongue may lie against the upper or lower teeth rather than behind them as a result of this problem. When it comes to adults, adults who are tongue-suck may be adopting this adaptive behavior as a coping mechanism for anxiety or even as a side effect of medication or illness. One such is the illness known as tardive dyskinesia.

This happens when a person has too much dopamine in their system, which causes them to move involuntarily. Among the symptoms could be:

face grimacing; jerky arm or leg motions; sticking out the tongue; and mouth movements that may involve tongue sucking.

Metoclopramide (Reglan) is one medicine that might cause tardive dyskinesia in a person. Neuroleptic drugs, also referred to as antipsychotics, particularly prochlorperazine (Compazine), which are used to treat schizophrenia, can also result in tardive dyskinesia symptoms.

A person with specific medical disorders might occasionally experience similar tardive dyskinesia symptoms. Among them are:

  1. Parkinson’s disease dystonia
  2. Huntington’s illness
  3. Tourette syndrome

See your doctor about any possible underlying problems or drugs that may be contributing to your tongue-sucking if it becomes difficult for you to manage as an adult.

Strategies to cease

You can attempt a few self-help techniques to quit tongue-sucking, but if those don’t work, you can seek professional assistance.

By yourself

If you’re sucking your tongue because of a habit rather than a medical condition, there are techniques you can attempt at home to stop. Among them are: Make use of alternative methods to break the habit of sucking your tongue. This might involve using gum.
Putting in place recurring reminders will help you catch yourself thinking and stop yourself from sucking your tongue. A timer set to go off every 15 to 30 minutes or an app that may be configured to remind you are two examples.
With an expert’s assistance

If none of these work, a doctor can help you quit tongue-sucking in the following ways:

Making a detachable plate can make tongue-sucking more difficult to perform and act as a reminder to quit. This method is called “reminder” treatment.
Speaking with a therapist or other mental health professional can help you identify the root causes of your tongue-sucking behavior. This might also serve as a way to reduce anxiousness. A therapist could assist you in finding alternative stress-reduction techniques that could help you stop tongue-sucking.
Speaking with a speech-language pathologist could be beneficial, especially if tongue sucking is affecting the person’s ability to speak or eat. Over time, tongue-sucking can ideally be reduced with the assistance of exercises and tools recommended by a speech-language pathologist.

You might need to experiment with multiple strategies over time. Since tongue sucking is a habit, it takes time to form and breaks easily.

The reasons it’s crucial to quit

Tongue Sucking

Tongue-sucking has several negative consequences. These could consist of:

Affected bite: an open or crossbite; hyperplasia or enlargement; lesions; injury to the tongue; malocclusions; incorrect tooth alignment; pain from prolonged and excessive sucking

A review of research from a reliable 2015 source said that tongue-sucking has emotional repercussions as well. Since you frequently aren’t aware that you’re tongue-sucking, you could feel self-conscious about it.

Your level of impact from these could vary depending on:

  1. How long have you been sucking your tongue?
  2. How long do you spend on it each day?
  3. the ferocity with which you perform
  4. When to consult a physician

See a doctor if you have used at-home methods to break the habit of tongue-sucking but have not been successful. Your physician can assist you with identifying potential cessation strategies. This could entail examinations with a dentist or other relevant specialists who can assist in determining what might be influencing your jaw alignment or teeth.

See your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns about their tongue-sucking behavior. The pediatrician can talk to you about your child’s developmental milestones and whether or not tongue-sucking or other non-nutritive sucking is suitable for your child’s age.

Your child’s pediatrician can suggest additional therapies or medical professionals to assist them in stopping tongue-sucking.

In summary

People of all ages can have tongue-sucking, and the causes can vary. If mindfulness works for you, you can also try practicing quitting on your own. If you require assistance in breaking the habit of tongue-sucking, it’s crucial to seek medical attention. Taking care of the issue could assist you with comfort and speaking with assurance.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1. Give information about tongue-sucking.

Tongue sucking is a habit that can make it appear as if you’re sucking on a hard candy or lozenge. While a rarer habit compared to thumb or finger sucking, tongue sucking can cause pain and discomfort and also make a person feel self-conscious. The condition affects children as well as adults. If you or a loved one has experienced a tongue-sucking habit, there are at-home and medical interventions that can help 1.

The causes of tongue sucking can vary. It could be a habit established in childhood, or it could be due to a medical condition or medication. In children, non-nutritive sucking, which is sucking not from a bottle or to gain nutrition, provides relaxation. A 2014 research review showed that children may suck a pacifier or their finger, usually until they’re 4 years old, as a means of comfort, especially before they take a nap or go to bed. Often, sucking as a non-nutritive habit goes along with other comforting habits, such as holding a blanket, stuffed animal, or doll. In adults, tongue sucking may be an adaptive behavior to relieve anxiety or even a side effect of medications or medical conditions.

Q2. What are some methods I can try at home to stop sucking my tongue if it’s related to a habit, not a medical condition?

There are methods you can try at home to stop sucking your tongue if it’s related to a habit, not a medical condition. These include:

  • Awareness: Try to be aware of when you’re sucking your tongue and what triggers the habit.
  • Substitution: Replace the habit with another activity, such as chewing gum or drinking water.
  • Positive reinforcement: Reward yourself for not engaging in the habit.
  • Negative reinforcement: Punish yourself for engaging in the habit.
  • Habit reversal training: This involves becoming aware of the habit, identifying the triggers, and replacing the habit with a more positive behavior.

If these methods don’t work, you can enlist the help of a professional. A dental appliance can be used to stop the tongue-thrusting or sucking habit. If the gaps in the teeth are closed by moving the teeth back to their original position, age is not a problem. If you start to experience tongue-sucking as an adult and it’s hard to manage, talk with your doctor about potential underlying conditions or medications that may be causing this to occur.

Q3. What is the difference between tongue sucking and thumb sucking?

Tongue-sucking and thumb-sucking are two different habits. Tongue sucking is a habit that can make it appear as if you’re sucking on a hard candy or lozenge, while thumb sucking is a reflexive action that babies use to calm themselves.

Thumb sucking is also a natural reflexive action that babies use to calm themselves. Thumb-sucking releases soothing neurotransmitters in the brain, providing a feeling of calm. Because it mimics the action of nursing, tongue thrust often comes with thumb sucking.

While both habits can cause pain and discomfort and also make a person feel self-conscious, tongue sucking can lead to several side effects, including an affected bite, such as an open bite or crossbite, hyperplasia, or enlargement, of your tongue, lesions or injuries to your tongue, malocclusions, or improper positioning of your teeth, and pain from excessive and prolonged sucking.



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