What is Tongue Thrust?

AKA – an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder

As noted in the video (my first, so go easy on me), a tongue thrust is a continuation of an immature swallow pattern where the tongue pushes forward to initiate the swallow rather than pushing upward.  It also can include resting positions and other actions where the tongue pushes out or against the teeth.  The problem being, that with continual pushing against the front teeth, those teeth will form or be pushed out away from their intended position, causing many parents and teens to opt for oral appliances and braces to repair the issue.  However, if the teeth are moved back and the tongue placement is not addressed, the child will be looking at future visits to the orthodontist and parents will be looking at additional health expenses.

A speech pathologist can identify tongue thrust issues with a myofunctional evaluation, which is typically performed as a part of a speech/articulation evaluation.  Treatment entails a specific regimen of exercises and repeated practice that gradually increases in difficulty as the child’s skills increase.  Younger children often require more external motivation to complete the exercises than older teens and there are programs that address both age ranges separately.  Treatment however relies heavily on a child’s ability to perceive where his/her tongue is in space and to be able to remind him/her self through out the day to keep their tongue back behind their teeth.  This can be difficult for younger children and often impacts treatment duration and effectiveness.

The primary factor for success here is to be completing the training activities and exercises daily and eventually through out the day until a new “habit” is formed replacing the old tongue position habit.

Contact me if you have additional questions or want to schedule a consultation or evaluation to address tongue thrust in your child.