What is a tongue thrust?
Tongue thrusting is the act of pressing the tongue against or between the front teeth during the swallow. This is normal for early feeding. Babies thrust their tongues forward for easy, efficient nursing. More efficient tongue movements gradually replace this infantile swallow pattern as the child's mouth muscles mature. Children ususally accomplish this transtition by the age of three years.
What are the signs of a tongue thrust?
Tongue thrusting may cause dental aligment problems. Your dentist will identify these problems and recommend appropriate treatments and referrals. The sign of tongue thrusting may include:
Tongue protrusion when swallowing
Tongue protrusion to meet the food or liquid
Use of liquids to wash down foods
Resting the tongue between or against the teeth
Breathing with an open mouth
Suckling the fingers, thumb or tongue
Protruding front teeth
When should I seek help to correct my tongue thrust pattern?
Tongue thursting betond the age of seven years requires intervention.
How long does it take to correct a tongue thrust?
Intervention consists of a brief, structured program to teach tongue control while swallowing, speaking and relaxing.
Does tongue thrusting affect speech sound production?
Tongue protrusion during the swallow may result in use of the same protrusion pattern during production of souds. Sounds potentially affected include "s", "t", "d", "n", "l", "sh", "ch", and "j". These are considered articulation errors and require therapy in addition to tongue thruset management.