Tongue Thrust


Tongue thrust is a common name used to describe orofacial muscular imbalance. It may also be referred to as reverse swallow or immature swallow. With tongue thrust, the tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech and/or swallowing. The tongue may lie too far forward during rest or may protrude between the upper and lower teeth during speech and swallowing.

What are some signs or symptoms of Tongue Thrust?

Although a “tongue thrust” swallow is normal in infancy, it usually decreases and disappears as a child grows. If the tongue thrust continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently than other children of the same age. Older children may become self-conscious about their appearance.

What effect does Tongue Thrust have on speech?

Some children produce sounds incorrectly as a result of thrusting the tongue.  Tongue thrust most often causes sounds like /s/, /z/, “sh”, “zh”, “ch”, and “j” to sound differently. For example, the child may say “thumb” instead of “some” if they produce an /s/ like a “th”. Also, the sounds /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/ may be produced incorrectly because of weak tongue tip muscles. Sometimes speech may not be affected at all.

How is Tongue Thrust diagnosed?

Tongue thrust is often diagnosed by a team of professionals. The team may include:

  • a dentist
  • an orthodontist
  • a physician
  • a speech-language pathologist (SLP)