Your tongue is one of the most important parts of your mouth.
It coordinates all the movements your mouth needs to make to eat and talk.
So it should come as no surprise to find out that there are speech disorders related to your tongue.
If you’ve noticed that your child is a messy eater and has difficulty making certain sounds, they may have tongue thrust.
Tongue thrust is an orofacial myofunctional disorder – a type of developmental issue in children that can lead to difficulties with eating and speech if left untreated.
At Voz Speech Therapy, we can provide your child with orofacial myofunctional speech therapy to overcome their tongue thrust.
In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at tongue thrust – what it is, how to recognize it, and how a Washington DC speech therapy clinic can help.
What Is Tongue Thrust?
Tongue thrust happens when your tongue presses or thrusts too far forward in your mouth.
Very young children do this on purpose; they create a seal in their mouth by pressing their tongue against their lips to help them swallow when breast or bottle feeding.
Most children grow out of this habit when they start teething.
If they don’t, it can cause some complications.
When your child has tongue thrust, the position of the tongue in their mouth often pushes against their front teeth, which can cause an “open bite”, where your teeth don’t close all the way when you bite down.
Tongue thrust can also cause trouble swallowing and speaking, especially with certain sounds that children tend to find difficult, like s and z.
It’s uncommon for tongue thrust to persist into adulthood, but if it does it can cause health complications.
Tongue Thrust Symptoms In Babies
It’s normal for babies who are breast or bottle feeding to tongue thrust; it helps them swallow.
Typically, as your child ages, their swallowing and speaking patterns naturally evolve and they lose their tongue thrust habits.
However, prolonged use of bottles as well as certain types of bottle nipples and pacifiers can lead to tongue thrust that lasts into early childhood.
Tongue thrust is easiest to identify when your child is swallowing and speaking, because that’s when the forward movement of the tongue is most apparent.
Some symptoms to look out for include:
- Breathing through the mouth
- An open bite, where your child’s front teeth don’t meet when their teeth are closed
- Developmentally unusual eating patterns that are too slow, too fast, or very messy
- Visible tongue between the teeth when resting, swallowing, or speaking
- Lisping, especially with s and z sounds
As with many other things, early intervention speech therapy is important when it comes to addressing tongue thrust.
This is because early intervention treatment has been shown to be more effective than waiting until your child is older.
Tongue Thrust Symptoms In Adults
If you had tongue thrust in your childhood and it wasn’t treated properly, it can persist into adulthood, as it is a habitual process.
Symptoms of tongue thrust in adulthood are mostly the same as symptoms in childhood, except messy eating might be less apparent.
You might also have elongated facial structure because of your inability to properly close your mouth and swallow.
While early intervention is ideal, speech therapy for adults with tongue thrust can still be effective.
What Causes Tongue Thrust?
It’s uncommon for tongue thrust to develop later in life, so most causes occur in childhood.
If your child sucks their thumb or fingers, they may be more likely to develop tongue thrust because of how sucking habits affect the tongue’s movement.
Lip and nail biting can also cause tongue thrust, because just like sucking fingers or the thumb, it can train your child’s mouth to sit in the wrong position.
Your child’s tongue thrust may also be caused by allergies that cause their tonsils to be chronically swollen.
If your child was born with tongue tie, this can also cause tongue thrust.
Tongue tie occurs when the tissue under the tongue is too tight or short, and not all cases of tongue tie are immediately obvious nor do they need surgical intervention.
However, this should be discussed with your dentist.
Additionally, heredity can play a role in developing tongue thrust.
If you had tongue thrust as a child, it’s a good idea to watch for it in your own children, as they may be more likely to develop it than other children.
How Does Speech Therapy For Tongue Thrust Help?
If you or your child has tongue thrust, you’ll likely have a team of professionals to help treat your tongue thrust problems.
This team might include an orthodontist, ENT, family doctor, oral physiotherapist, allergist, and a speech therapist, of course.
Speech therapy is an important part of treating tongue thrust.
Your child’s speech therapist will first evaluate how your child swallows and speaks.
Depending on your child’s abilities with swallowing and speaking, your child’s speech therapist will put together a treatment plan that addresses these issues.
Your child’s speech therapist will be able to work with them to improve tongue positioning when speaking and swallowing.
Speech therapy treatments go hand in hand with orthodontic and other treatments to ensure that your child’s tongue thrust gets corrected and stays corrected so it doesn’t lead to issues later on.
Book Your Appointment With Voz Speech Therapy Today
Tongue thrust is a very treatable condition with the right team of specialists helping you.
At Voz Speech Therapy, we’re here to help anyone, no matter your age, overcome your tongue thrust and communicate clearly.
1331 H St NW Ste 200,
Washington, DC 20005
Voz Speech Therapy is a pediatric bilingual speech therapy clinic in Washington, DC that provides individualized services based on the specific needs of your or your child. Therapy sessions are provided in English or Spanish, depending on your child’s native language. Voz Speech Therapy es una clínica pediátrica bilingüe de terapia del habla en Washington, DC que brinda servicios individualizados según las necesidades específicas de usted o su hijo. Las sesiones de terapia se brindan en inglés o español, según el idioma nativo de su hijo.