Tongue Thrust in Children

What is it? 

A tongue thrust is one type of “orofacial myofunctional disorder,” which just means the movement of the face and mouth is abnormal. In the case of a tongue thrust, it refers to the abnormal pushing movement of a person’s tongue during eating, drinking, and speaking.  

Why does it happen? 

Great question. There is no single cause as to “why” a tongue thrust occurs. Some contributing factors are blocked nasal passages due to enlarged adenoids or tonsils, sucking and chewing habits past age 3, and anything else that could cause the tongue to sit inaccurately against the mouth or lips. This could include an overbite or underbite, drooling, difficulty closing mouth, and/or limited tongue movement. 

What should I do about it? 

You can see a few different professionals to find out if your child has a tongue thrust, including a speech language pathologist (SLP), dentist, orthodontist, or doctor. These professionals can assess the possibility of contributing factors and the treatment that may help with their swallowing, breathing, and/or speaking. 

What is the SLP’s role? d

An SLP can help with treatment of a tongue thrust AFTER the breathing problems are medically assessed and treated. He or she can provide speech therapy for your child to help articulate their speech sounds more clearly, change their chewing and swallowing habits, and increase their awareness of how their tongue and mouth work during eating or talking. 

If you have concerns regarding this issue, please reach out to us at Curlee Communication Consultants! 

Shannon Greenlee, M.A., CCC-SLP