TONGUE TONGUE THRUST SPEECH THERAPY
What is Tongue Thrust?
A tongue thrust occurs when the tongue moves too far forward during speech or swallowing. The lips are often in an open position, allowing the tongue to protrude out of the mouth at rest. Due to many variables in the specifics of an individual’s tongue thrust, it is extremely important to have a skilled team including a dentist, orthodontist, pediatrician, and speech therapist involved.
Some signs of a tongue thrust disorder include the following and should be investigated further with an evaluation of speech pathologist:
- Tongue protruding between or against the upper and/or lower front teeth when forming /s/, /z/, /t/, /d/, /n/, /l/, or /sh/
- An open-mouth resting posture with the lips parted and/or the tongue resting against the upper and/or lower teeth
- Cracked, chapped, and sore lips from frequent licking
- Mouth breathing for reasons other than allergies or nasal congestion
Why Tongue Thrust Is a Concern?
Dentists and orthodontists emphasize understanding the impact of tongue and facial muscles on the alignment of teeth, known as occlusion. This emphasis stems from compelling evidence that excessive tongue pressure against the inner teeth and imbalanced facial muscle pressure from the outside—commonly seen in tongue thrust swallow or improper tongue resting posture—can lead to malocclusion or teeth misalignment.
The positioning of the tongue and facial muscles takes on an even more pivotal role: When the tongue habitually rests against the front teeth and the upper lip, particularly if it is short or lacks firmness (appearing weak and flabby), it exerts a continuous force pushing the front teeth forward.
As a result, addressing and correcting tongue thrust through specialized speech techniques become integral components of effective orthodontic treatment. This correction contributes significantly to the long-term success of the treatment but also streamlines the achievement of desired results.
Treatment of Tongue Thrust and Subsequent Articulation Disorders
To correct tongue thrust, speech pathologists prescribe exercises designed to promote a normal swallowing pattern and correct speech production. In the evaluation session, the patient will be given swallowing and articulation inventory tests. If only “pure” tongue thrust is found without articulation errors, then only a handful of sessions might be prescribed.
At the evaluation or during a post follow-up session, the patient will be taught techniques to do daily to decrease their tongue thrust. Follow-up sessions will be recommended to monitor the client’s progress.
If the patient has misarticulated consonants such as: /s/, /z/, “sh”, “ch”, and “ts” then each sound will have to be corrected during speech therapy. The good news is that by successfully correcting one sound, we may correct another (for example: correcting the /s/ may solve the problem with the /z/ sound).
How Can Brooklyn Letters Help?
The Brooklyn Letters team can provide tongue thrust speech therapy to help a child and/or adult both understand and practice proper tongue and lip postures with awareness training. After assessing the irregular placement of the tongue and/or lips, the child and/or adult will perform tongue thrust speech therapy exercises to make adjustments for the appropriate placement. The child and/or adult will also be able to establish a safer and more comfortable swallowing pattern by observing the difference between a correct and an incorrect swallow. With continued practice, pulling the tongue back, instead of forward, during swallows. If the tongue thrust causes speech sound errors, the Brooklyn Letters speech therapist can provide tongue thrust speech therapy and work to help your child have proper tongue placement to produce the correct sounds.