Treatment Methods

How is Tongue Thrust Treated

Speech-language pathologists assess and treat open-mouth posture, swallowing problems, and speech errors that result from a tongue thrust. (Goda, S. 1968)
They specialize in assessing lip, palate, tongue, and facial muscles both at rest and during speech and swallowing. They also assess and analyze speech sound errors. When needed, they develop a speech treatment plan to help a child change his mouth posture and the way he says sounds within words. (Barret, 1979)
Speech treatment for tongue thrust problems may include: 

 Teaching the child to be aware of mouth and face muscles as well as the normal mouth and tongue position;

 Creating an oral muscle exercise program for your child to improve muscle strength or coordination; and

 Working toward normal speech and swallowing patterns.
(Developmental Medicine n.d.)

    If airways are blocked due to allergies or enlarged tonsils and adenoids, speech treatment may be postponed until the child completes medical treatment for these problems. In patients with oral habits (thumb/finger sucking, lip biting), speech treatment may first focus on ridding the child of these behaviors. Then, the therapist can address your child’s speech and swallowing patterns.

1. Myofunctional therapy- A special device is prescribed to the patient with or without braces.  It’s composed of two heavy wires curving back onto the hard palate behind the upper teeth. As long as the tongue is properly positioned in the mouth during swallowing, the wires will not interfere with the tongue.  If the mouth is in the tongue thrust position, the motion brings the wires into the path of the tongue preventing the thrusting motion.  This can be used simultaneously with elastic bands in the mouth.  (Explanation of myofunctional disorders- 2003)

Dentist and or orthodontist are concerned about tongue thrust or oral myofunctional disorders because of the tongue effects on the facial muscles on the occlusion of teeth.  Swallowing or incorrect tongue resting position may cause malocclusion or misalignment of the teeth.   When the tongue is constantly resting on the front teeth, and the upper lip becomes weak or is weak, the front teeth then begin to protrude forward.  

 2. Articulation - Individuals who have a tongue thrust occasionally have a lateral lisp.  The /s/ is most affected.  Air is forced on the side of the tongue rather than forward. 

3. Oral habit training- the patient learns techniques that retrain the muscles of the mouth associated with swallowing.  This treatment is useful for many speech disorders.(Florida speech-language pathology 2010)