WHAT IS A TONGUE THRUST?
Tongue thrusting is the habit of placing the tongue in the wrong position while swallowing. The pressure exerted on the teeth when this occurs may force the teeth and arches out of alignment. The tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech, swallowing and/or at rest. Myofunctional therapy re-educates the tongue muscles to correct deviant swallow pattern.
WHAT DOES A NORMAL SWALLOW LOOK LIKE?
During a normal swallow, the tip of the tongue is placed on the alveolar ridge, the jaw closes with the occlusion of the rear molars and the tongue moves up in a wave-like motion to propel food upwards and back. An anterior tongue thrust is the most common and typical form of tongue thrust in which case the tongue pushes on or between the upper and/or lower teeth.
WHAT CAUSES TONGUE THRUST?
- Mouth breathing/Low resting tongue position
- Muscular conditions/Low muscle tone
- Neurological Conditions
- Physiological Abnormalities
- A short lingual frenum
WHAT IS THE CONSEQUENCE OF TONGUE THURST?
The force of the tongue against the teeth contributes to malformation. Individuals with tongue thrust swallow pattern may experience misalignment of the teeth even after the completion of orthodontic work.
HOW IS TONGUE THRUST DIAGNOSED?
Tongue thrust is frequently diagnosed by a team of professionals consisting of the following:
- Speech and Language Pathologist
Both dentists and orthodontists may be involved when constant tongue pressure against the teeth interferes with normal tooth eruption and alignment of the teeth. Physicians rule out the presence of blocked airways and Speech Pathologists evaluate and treat the effects of tongue thrust on speech, rest postures and swallowing.
In myofunctional therapy, neuromuscular re-education takes place in order to synchronize the muscles of the tongue, cheeks and throat so that the tip of the tongue presses firmly against the roof of the mouth which absorbs the force created by the tongue. Our program consists of various exercises designed to retrain and normalize the position of the tongue, lips and jaw during the act of swallowing and at rest. During therapy the following areas may be targeted:
- Increasing awareness of mouth/facial muscles and postures.
- Improving muscle tone and coordination.
- Improving speech sound productions.
- Improving swallow pattern.
Myofunctional therapy can be a normalizing influence on the growth and position of the teeth. The establishment of correct tongue placement facilitates the production of specific speech sounds and removes the antagonistic force of incorrect tongue movements to the teeth.