What is a Tongue Thrust?
An Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder or Tongue Thrust refers to when the tongue moves forward in an exaggerated manner during speech or swallowing. The tongue either sits too far forward when at rest or protrudes forward during speech or swallowing, sometimes protruding between the upper and lower teeth. A tongue thrust during the swallowing process is normal for infants however it is often outgrown by their first birthday. If the tongue thrust continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently compared to their peers. Older children may also become self-conscious of their appearance.
How does a Tongue Thrust impact Speech?
A tongue thrust can cause sounds like “s”, ’z”, “sh”, “zh”, “ch” and “j” to sound different. For example, the word “thumb” may be pronounced as “some” if their tongue protrudes during the “s” sound. Sounds such as /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ may also be produced incorrectly as these are all tongue tip sounds produced in a similar forward position. In some cases speech may not be affected at all.
What Treatment is available for Tongue Thrust?
A dentist and or orthodontist may also be involved if the tongue thrust interferes with dental development and alignment of the teeth and jaw. An ENT specialist may be involved to determine if the forward tongue position is due to a physical obstruction such as enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Once all structural problems have been eliminated, a Speech Pathologist will then treat the effects on speech, rest postures, and swallowing.
What causes a Tongue Thrust?
A tongue thrust may be caused by a number of factors including allergies, enlarged tonsils and adenoids causing a blockage of air leading to an open-mouth breathing pattern, excessive thumb or finger sucking affecting the shape of the child’s oral cavity. There may also be a family hereditary component involved which determines the size of a child’s mouth, the arrangement and number of teeth, and the strength of the child’s articulators such as the lip, tongue, mouth, and facial muscles. For more information about tongue thrust or any speech related fields, contact us today.
For more information
You can read more about Tongue Thrust at Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders -ASHA