A tongue thrust is the pushing of the tongue forward against the teeth during a swallow. This swallow pattern can cause dental and/or speech problems. This habit requires retraining of the swallow pattern in order to have long term success.
Symptoms or characteristics of tongue thrust are:
- Tongue placed forward in the mouth, against the teeth
- Speech problems – lisp
- Open mouth or lips at rest
- Need for or have braces
- Difficulty chewing/swallowing food
An evaluation for tongue thrust is done by the speech language pathologist (SLP). The SLP will review your child’s medical and dental history. The SLP will watch your child eat and drink. The therapist will check the strength of your child’s tongue, lips, and jaw. A history of other habits such as sucking his thumb, fingers, etc. will be discussed. If any sucking habits are in place at this time, they would need to be eliminated before beginning any treatment. Your therapist will then ask you and your child what your main concerns are, and will work with both of you to develop goals and a plan of action.
Your child’s therapist will design a treatment plan for your child. Treatment may include:
- Tongue strengthening
- Correct tongue placement at rest
- Correct swallowing of saliva, liquids and solids
- Correct tongue placement of specific speech sounds