Tongue Resting on Teeth/mouth Breathing?

Updated on May 01, 2011
A.S. asks from Houston, TX
5 answers

Hi Mommies, Has anyone had an issue with their child's tongue resting between their teeth such that they would want/need to keep their mouths open all of the time?

My 4 year old DS has always held his mouth open with his tongue held on top of his lower set of teeth in the front. Kind of like an infant does before they figure out what to do with their tongue. :-) For a long time, I thought he was mouth breathing. I have asked him if he is breathing through his nose or mouth, and he says his nose. He has always responded that it is easier to breathe through his nose. I have gone into his room at night to feel under his nose and at his mouth to try and ascertain where he was breathing from. Always has seemed like it was his nose. I thought he might outgrow the tongue/open mouth thing, but by the time he was 3 1/2 and still doing it, I decided to take him to an ENT.

The ENT said his tonsils didn't seem enlarged and indicated that the only way to tell if his adenoids were enlarged was by invasively sticking a camera up his nose to check. She also said that we could try Patanase to see if that would lessen some of the apparent mouth breathing. We have had him on the Patanase for a while now, but he still seems to hold his mouth and TONGUE like this.

Recently, we saw a speech therapist for some social skill training and she noted that he had some articulation issues going on concerning his tongue resting on his teeth (which has ALWAYS gone along with the open mouth thing). Now I am wondering if there is something wrong with his TONGUE that is actaully making him hold his mouth open while still breathing through his nose (in other words, the open mouth might have nothing to do with breathing and EVERYTHING to do with some sort of something goin gon with his tongue).

Has anyone else experienced this with their kids? I am seriously considering having the ENT stick a camera up his nose to rule out the adenoids for sure. But I need some guidance on what might be going on with his tongue. Who would I even go see concerning the tongue?

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answers from Springfield on

My 2 year old is seeing a speech therapist. He often has his toungue resting on his teeth, especially when he's consentrating. I didn't think anything of it because his cousin and his uncle (both on my husband's side) do the same thing. The the therapist mentioned it, so I asked. She said in my son's case, he has low muscle tone in his chin & jaw area. Because those muscles are weak, he doesn't have the strength to articulate properly. It will just take time and practice to strenthen those muscles. I asked my husband about our nephew and his brother, and he said they both were speech delayed.

No idea whether we're talking about the same thing, but it couldn't hurt to ask the speech therapist to explain it better. Talk to him/her about your concerns and what the ENT has said. Often times, medical professionals don't give you details unless you ask, so he/she might not even realize you are concerned.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

One of my brothers and I both have big tongues. Mine's mostly long, his is mostly wide. He has to roll his tongue up like a taco to keep from biting it (his tongue sticks out half an inch past his teeth on all sides of his teeth if he relaxes). I have to keep mine pulled "in" or it rests on all my teeth but doesnt' stick out past on the sides, and back or it sticks out in front about an inch (yes, I can touch my nose with my tongue). Even with our mouths open, it's almost impossible to breath through our mouths, because our tongues get in the way of inhalation/expiration unless we "round" them (like sucking through a straw.

For BOTH of us, my mum used to always tell us to shut our mouths. "We are not a codfish" type. Shut your mouth. Fingers tapping us on the bottom of our chins. That sort of thing. Eventually we learned to keep our mouths shut. NEITHER of us are mouth breathers, nor have we been, it's just that it took a few years to learn to keep our mouths shut. And we bled a lot while eating... bitten tongues.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It sounds like a tongue thrust issue. My dtr (age 6) is currently in speech therapy for articulation issues. It turns out her issue has centered on a long standing issue of tongue thrusting. Since starting therapy, her awareness has improved greatly and her articulation issue is slowly improving.

One recommendation: ask your pediatric dentist and speech therapist to rule out the condition of being "tongue tied". Unbeknownst to me, this was longstanding problem for my dtr. We had her tongue snipped (via laser) 6 months ago. It hasn't improved her speech but she now has significantly greater range of motion which will no longer impede her speech progress.

Please feel free to send me a personal message if I can be of greater assistance. Good luck!

ADD: My dtr also had her adenoids checked by an ENT. Everything was fine. All in all, the invasive test for adenoids was not all that "invasive". The scope was the size of a spaghetti noodle and was done right in the office. My dtr tolerated the procedure remarkably well. One other thing I thought I would mention...normal resting position for your tongue is on the roof of your mouth. This was not the case for my dtr so it's been something we've been working on,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Eugene on

My daughter had to see a tongue therapist. I'd never heard of this profession before but she was recommended by our dentist because my daughter's tongue position was affecting her bite. Perhaps your son could be evaluated by a tongue therapist before sticking a camera up his nose!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Find a tongue specialist, as suggested below. Also check with a good pediatric dentist, as this can affect the development of the lower jaw, so that it doesn't widen normally.

Next question: Tongue Thrust Advice..........???