What Is Tongue Thrust?

What Is Tongue Thrust?

Aug 10, 2018

Usually when a person swallows food or liquid the tongue pushes on the area behind the upper front teeth. However, a person with tongue thrust routinely pushes the tongue between the top and bottom front teeth when swallowing.

This habit, which is also known as reverse swallowing, might sound harmless, but it can lead to various health problems. If left untreated, teeth can become misaligned, jaw development can be negatively impacted, a lisp might develop, and swallowing patterns can become abnormal. With those complications in mind, it’s best to try to identify the problem as soon as possible.

Signs and Causes of Tongue Thrust

Some commons signs of tongue thrust include:

  • Lips rest in open position
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  • Tongue rests against or between teeth
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Speech production issues
  • Messy or noisy eating
  • Snoring

The causes of tongue thrust range from hereditary factors to daily habits. For example, tongue-tie, an enlarged tongue, or enlarged tonsils can lead a child to thrust his or her tongue forward while swallowing.

Children who continue to suck on their thumbs or on a bottle beyond the usual timeframe can also develop tongue thrust. It’s normal for an infant to have tongue thrust while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, but the baby’s swallowing patterns need to eventually change as he or she grows.

Obstructed breathing, whether in the form of nasal congestion or allergies, can also cause tongue thrust, as the tongue is forced into a new position to make mouth breathing easier.


It’s possible to correct tongue thrust with the help of Dr. Korous and some cooperation from the patient. Myofunctional therapy, a series of oral exercises, can retrain the tongue to move and rest in healthier ways. In some cases, a Myrobrace appliance is also used to correct the problem, but it is often still accompanied by the therapy exercises.

If you think your child may have tongue thrust or want to learn more about Myobrace and myofunctional therapy, call to schedule a consultation by calling our Frisco dental office today.


Watch the video below to see how tongue thrust impacts jaw development and tooth alignment.