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Playful Kids

Tongue Thrust

If your child has been referred by a dentist, orthodontist or your pediatrician for possible tongue thrust, please call for a more detailed screening and to establish a treatment plan. What is tongue thrust? Tongue thrust is when the tongue pushes out through the teeth or against the teeth when speaking, eating or at rest.  Tongue thrust often causes an "open bite," which is when the teeth seem to flair open even when they are closed in the back. This can be corrected with braces, but without correcting the tongue movement patterns,  the tongue can eventually undo the work of the braces and teeth can be shifted back to their old places. Generally tongue thrust therapy is successful with children who are 6 or older. Some indicators of tongue thrust include:

  • sounds like /t, d, n, s, z, l/ being produced between/through the teeth (often described as a lisp by parents)

  • when the teeth are closed in the back, there may be a flaring or opening out of the front teeth


  • the tongue pushes against or out through the teeth when swallowing

  • may have difficulty swallowing hard foods; commonly cannot swallow pills whole

  • often children with tongue thrust have open mouth posture and breathe through their mouths instead of their noses

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