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What is tongue thrusting?

Tongue thrusting, also called reverse swallow or immature swallow, is the name given to a human behaviour pattern in which the tongue protrudes through the front teeth during swallowing, speech, and while the tongue is at rest.

Tongue thrusting occurs in a significant number of school-age children. All babies tongue thrust at birth, however as children grow they usually switch to the normal swallowing pattern with the tongue pressed to the roof of the mouth. Not changing to a more mature swallowing pattern can adversely affect the teeth and mouth.

What causes tongue thrusting?

While no specific cause of tongue thrust has been determined, there are several suspected causes:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Some artificial nipples used for feeding infants
  • Mouth breathing which can cause the tongue’s posture to be very low in the mouth. Nasal congestion, allergies, or obstructions may contribute to mouth breathing.
  • Difficulty swallowing which can be a result of enlarged adenoids, frequent sore throats or tonsillitis
  • An exceptionally large tongue
  • The angle of the jaw line or other hereditary factors within a family
  • Muscular, neurological, or other physiological abnormalities
  • Being ”tongue tied” – a short lingual frenulum

What are the effects of tongue thrusting?

A person swallows 1,200 to 2,000 times every 24 hours with approximately 1.8kg of pressure each time. The continuous pressure of tongue thrusting tends to push the teeth forward and out of alignment, having adverse effects on the bite, mouth and jaw.

It is this noticeable change in the outward appearance of teeth and mouth that usually diagnoses tongue thrusting.

Tongue thrusting treatments

The orthodontic treatment for tongue thrusting is to fit an appliance in the mouth that is worn as is recommended by an orthodontist, usually at night. Braces may also be fitted to correctly align the teeth. Consultation with a speech pathologist may also be recommended.

For tongue thrusting treatment and a beautiful natural smile contact Ethos Orthodontics for an appointment today (no referral needed).