What is a tongue thrust?
A tongue thrust is considered an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). 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, and at rest.
What are some signs or symptoms of OMD?
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 OMD have on speech?
Some children produce sounds incorrectly as a result of OMD. OMD 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.
What treatment is available for individuals with OMD?
A speech-language pathologist (SLP) with experience and training in the treatment of OMD can help with:
- increasing awareness of mouth and facial muscles
- increasing awareness of mouth and tongue postures
- improving muscle strength and coordination
- improving speech sound productions
- improving swallowing patterns