Tongue Thrust – a Tongue Thrust is the abnormal habit of placing the tongue between the teeth before and during the act of swallowing. During each swallow, the tongue exerts momentary pressures on the surrounding structures of the mouth. A Tongue Thrust can move teeth into abnormal positions and can lead to facial growth problems.
What effect does a Tongue Thrust have on speech?
Some children produce sounds incorrectly as a result of a tongue thrust. They may demonstrate a lisp while pronouncing /s/, /z/, “sh”, “zh”, “ch” and “j”. Also /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ may be pronounced incorrectly because of weak tongue tip muscles. Sometimes speech may not be affected at all.
Consequences of a Tongue Thrust:
Many orthodontists have had the discouraging experience of completing dental treatment, with what appears to be good results, only to discover that the case had relapsed because the patient had a tongue thrust swallowing pattern. If the tongue is allowed to continue its pushing action against the teeth, it will continue to push the teeth forward and reverse the orthodontic work.
Although a “tongue thrust” swallow is normal in infancy, it usually decreases and disappears as a child grows. If the tongue thrust continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently than other children of the same age. Older children may become self-conscious about their appearance.
The most proven and effective technique to solve a tongue thrust problem is by oral habit training. This is an exercise that re-educates the muscles associated with swallowing by changing the swallowing pattern. This method must be taught by a trained speech therapist.