Tongue Thrust

Q: What is a tongue thrust?

A: A tongue thrust occurs when the tongue pushes forward, against the front teeth, causing a reverse swallow.  This habit can cause poor teeth alignment, a lisp, mouth breathing, and jaw misalignment. Because a person swallows 500-1000 times a day, it’s easy to see how improper swallowing can cause a variety of problems.  But it is the resting position of the tongue that does the most damage because it is more constant.

Q:  What causes a tongue thrust?

  • Prolonged pacifier use or digit sucking past 18 months can cause a forward thrusting of the tongue.
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or allergies.
  • Genetic history.

Q:  My child needs braces.  Will that correct the tongue thrust?

A:  Unfortunately, braces alone will not correct your child’s tongue thrust.  If the child is only fitted with braces, without speech therapy, the constant tongue thrusting will likely reverse the positive effects of braces, especially after they are removed.  However, an orthodontist can place a “tongue crib” in the child’s mouth acting as a tongue anchor; preventing further thrusting. Your orthodontist and speech pathologist must work in unison to reverse the tongue thrust and tongue placement while also improving teeth alignment.   It is best practice to correct the tongue thrust with a speech therapist prior to receiving braces.

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