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Tongue Thrust 

Tongue thrust, also known as orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) or anterior tongue positioning, is a condition where the tongue pushes against or between the teeth when swallowing, speaking, or at rest. Normally, the tongue should rest against the roof of the mouth (palate) during these activities.

In some cases, tongue thrust is a normal developmental pattern in infants, but it typically diminishes as the child grows older and develops proper swallowing patterns. However, in some individuals, tongue thrust persists beyond infancy and can lead to dental, speech, and swallowing problems.

Causes of tongue thrust can include factors such as:

  1. Thumb or finger sucking habits that persist beyond infancy.

  2. Structural issues, such as a large tongue, open bite, or issues with the palate.

  3. Neurological conditions or developmental disorders that affect muscle control and coordination.


Symptoms of tongue thrust can include:

  1. Open bite (gap between the upper and lower teeth when the mouth is closed).

  2. Tongue visible between the teeth during speech or at rest.

  3. Difficulty with speech sounds, particularly "s," "z," "sh," and "ch."

  4. Forward resting posture of the tongue.


Treatment for tongue thrust typically involves working with a speech-language pathologist or orofacial myologist to retrain the tongue and establish proper swallowing patterns. This may include exercises to strengthen and reposition the tongue, as well as techniques to promote proper oral posture. In some cases, dental intervention may also be necessary to correct any associated dental issues.

SLPs play a crucial role in helping individuals with tongue thrust improve their swallowing patterns and achieve proper oral function. Treatment plans are individualized based on the specific needs of the individual and may involve a combination of therapies and techniques.

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