Hamilton Dental Group

Tongue Thrusting

Take a drink of water. Or just swallow. Be cautious of where your tongue is when you do these second nature tasks. Most people’s tongue will end up on the roof of their mouth or along their gums behind the upper front teeth. However, some people’s tongue ends up going between their upper and lower teeth when they swallow. This trait is called tongue thrust.

Tongue thrust is common in babies – both bottle and breastfed. However, as the baby grows older, their swallowing and speaking patterns should evolve and grow along with then. There are many different reasons why abnormal tongue thrusts can continue past infancy and into the early childhood years. Some examples are:

Long term sucking habits such as a pacifier, thumb, fingers, etc.
Allergies that also include chronic swelling of adenoids and tonsils.
Tongue tie: where the band of tissue that attaches the tongue to the mouth is too tight or too short.
Prolonged use of a bottle.
Worried your child or another loved one might have tongue thrust? In children there are some symptoms to be on the lookout for. Some of these symptoms include:

Tongue visibility: children with tongue thrust will have the tip of their tongue protruding between their upper and lower teeth when the child is resting, speaking, or swallowing.
Mouth breathing: mouth breathing can be caused by many different things, so don’t worry about this symptom alone. If your child is showing multiple of these symptoms, have them tested by a professional.
Speech impeachment: often, children with tongue thrust will lisp the letters Z and S.
Inability to close lips all the way: this could be out of habit, or it of structural abnormalities.
Children are not the only ones that can have tongue thrust, adults can too. Most cases of adult tongue thrust are due to untreated childhood, however it is possible for tongue thrust to develop later in life. While most of the symptoms are the same from a child to an adult, adults with tongue thrust have a few more symptoms on their own such as:

Development of a longer facial structure due to the inability to close their mouth and swallow properly.
Eating troubles: due to the possible open bite, if the front teeth don’t connect, an adult can have a hard time breaking off and breaking down food.
If you or someone you know think they may have tongue thrust, get them into a trained professional to get diagnosed. General doctors, dentists, orthodontists, pediatricians, and speech language pathologists can all diagnose tongue thrusting in a patient.

Once diagnosed, you can get treatment. An orthodontic appliance is a common form of treatment for children. The device, called a tongue crib, sits at the roof of the mouth and corrects an open bite. The most successful treatment for both children and adults is orofacial myology. This form of therapy corrects the placement of the lips, jaw and tongue which leads to correction of swallowing habits and open mouth.

If treated, tongue thrust has a high success rate! If you are interested in knowing more about tongue thrust, or want to get your loved one a diagnosis, give Hamilton Dental Group a call!

What is Tongue Thrusting?

Tongue thrusting is the abnormal habit of placing the tongue against the front teeth before and during the act of swallowing. During normal swallowing, the tongue should be placed on the roof of the mouth, not against the front teeth. Placing the tongue against the teeth develops the upper arch faster than the lower arch, protruding the front teeth making them appear “bucked”. If you notice your child repeatedly thrusting their tongue during swallowing, consult Dr. Fattahi.

What can be done about Tongue Thrusting?

There are devices that can help train children to properly swallow thus preventing major orthodontic problems, abnormal speech patterns and abnormal facial development. The device may be a removable retainer that is used a few hours each day. In advanced cases, or for young children, a device may be bonded in place.


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