Tongue sucking is a common oral habit in children that can persist into adulthood. While the behaviour is typically harmless, it can lead to dental problems if it continues for a long period. It can make a person self-conscious and awkward. If you or your loved one are facing this problem, follow this article until the end to find the solution. 

Tongue Sucking

What Is Tongue Sucking?

 Tongue-sucking involves pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth, sucking on it, and releasing it. Tongue sucking seems like you are sucking on hard candy. This habit might seem harmless, but it has a science behind it.

Origin of Tongue Sucking

Tongue-sucking has been around for centuries, but it is only recently that science has started to explore the potential benefits of tongue-sucking as a therapeutic tool. As our understanding of the human body grows, more and more research shows that tongue-sucking can be used to treat various ailments, such as stress and tension headaches. 

Cognitive Benefits Of Tongue Sucking

 This technique can be used for releasing various tensions, such as those caused by stress and headaches. When you suck on your tongue, your body releases endorphins, which can act as natural painkillers, making the headache disappear. 

Tongue sucking can also help relieve tension in the jaw and neck, resulting in improved physical and mental well-being. 

The benefits of tongue-sucking do not just stop there – it can be used to 

  • boost energy levels
  •  improve sleep quality 
  •  improve mood.

In addition, some studies have shown that tongue-sucking can reduce anxiety, leading to reduced stress and increased creativity. 

Causes Of Tongue Sucking In Children

Children, from an early age, are used to sucking. This may be of two types 

  • Nutritive sucking: for nutrition, like sucking from the nipples of the mother or feeder
  • Non-nutritive sucking: For means of comfort like sucking a finger or toy

research review mentions that children like tongue-sucking or finger-sucking as a means of comfort before taking a nap. The non-nutritive sucking goes parallel with other comforting habits, such as holding the blanket of a stuffed toy.

Children normally grow up and leave the habit of young sucking with time. But sometimes, children may not leave this habit with the post and continue it for anxiety relief. 

In some cases, tongue sucking may be associated with other conditions like tongue thirst, in which a person’s tongue rests against the upper or lower teeth instead of behind them.

Causes Of Tongue Sucking In Adult

Tongue thrust in adults

The three potential causes of tongue-sucking in includes include

  • Adapting it as a habit for coping with anxiety
  • Due to the side effects of some medications. For example, neuroleptic medications can produce such side effects
  • Due to some medical conditions like tardive dyskinesia 

Is Tongue Sucking Normal?

Tongue-sucking can be found in both children and adults. Let’s break this question into two parts.

In Children

It is common for parents to experience tongue-sucking in their infants as it is a non-nutritive habit that resolves itself after three years. It becomes a noticeable concern if it remains in the children till the age of 8 years. 

In Adults

The untreated, not nutritive sucking of childhood is an uncommon habit in adults. It makes a person self-conscious and may also lead to a few medical conditions. 

Why is It Important To Stop Tongue Sucking?

Before discussing breaking this habit, it is important to know its downsides. Tongue sucking has several side effects that affect your overall personality and oral health. It would help if you stopped tongue-sucking because

  • It may cause pain due to excessive and prolonged sucking
  • It can affect your bite and cause crossbite or an open bite
  • It may cause lesions on your tongue.
  • It can cause the improper position of your teeth. This condition is called malocclusion
  • Receding lower jaws
  • Narrowing of the upper jaw
  • Altered speech
  • High Palate

How To Break the Habit Of Tongue Sucking

Breaking the habit of tongue-sucking can be challenging, but it is possible with patience and perseverance.

 The first step is to identify what triggers your tongue-sucking behaviour, which will help you create strategies to break the cycle. Common triggers include

  1.  Stress
  2. Boredom
  3. Hunger

 Once you have established the triggers, you can start to develop strategies to avoid or manage them. 

The next step is to find an alternative coping mechanism for when you feel the urge to tongue-suck. This might involve taking deep breaths, drinking a cup of tea, or going for a walk By replacing your tongue-sucking behaviour with a harmless alternative like chewing gum

Seek Help From health professionals

If you were unable to stop tongue-sucking by yourself while using the above-mentioned tip, then it’s time to visit a doctor.

mental health professional or therapist helps you to identify the root cause of tongue sucking. You may experience stress or anxiety and use tongue-sucking for relief. 

If your speech and eating habits are affected due to tongue sucking, then a speech-language pathologist may be helpful. He can suggest some exercises to get rid of this habit over time.

Wrapping Text

In conclusion, tongue-sucking is a behaviour that can be learned and unlearned. In children, it is common, and they use it as non-nutritive sucking s.In adults, Tongue-sucking in adults can be caused by a variety of factors, including anxiety, stress, and boredom. There are a number of ways to stop tongue-sucking, including behavioural therapy, positive reinforcement, and other alternatives. You can also seek the Help of a healthcare professional to get rid of this habit and lead a confident life ahead.