Tongue Thrust is the frontal thrust or strong contact of the teeth during swallowing, in addition to inadequate lip closure, or incorrect lingual-mandibular resting posture.
The most common characteristics of a tongue thrust swallow pattern include one or more of the following:

  • During the initiation of the swallow, the tongue moves forward between the anterior incisors, so that the tongue tip contacts the lower lip.
  • During speech production, the tongue moves forward between the anterior incisors, with the mandible turned open (in phonetic contexts that do not require such placement of the articulators)
    e.g., /sh/ sounds more like a voiceless /th/ sound, e.g., “thoe”/ ‘shoe’
  • At rest, the tongue is carried forward in the oral cavity with the mandible slightly open and the tongue tip resting between the anterior incisors.

What causes Tongue Thrust?

A “tongue thrust” swallow is typical for infants and slowly matures as a child ages. Most children should develop a normal swallow pattern by 4 years, 6 months of age, however, it often takes longer (up to 6 or 7).

The most common causes include:

  • Improper infant feeding (e.g., bottle feeding past 12 months, difficulty transitioning to table food, etc.)
  • Allergies (nasal obstruction causes mouth breathing and tongue to rest further forward in the mouth)
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or frequent sore throats, (causing difficulty swallowing)
  • Mouth breathing
  • Thumb and finger sucking
  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Genetic factors (inherited tendencies toward malocclusion)
  • Tongue tie (short lingual frenulum)

Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Boston and Lexington, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 121 Mt Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108.