What is tongue thrust?

Tongue thrusting is the habit of pushing your tongue forward between the upper and lower teeth when you swallow. The proper positioning for the tongue is for the tip to push against the gum above the back of your upper front teeth.  Tongue thrust is also called “reverse swallow” or “immature swallow” and is one of the common Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD).

What causes Tongue Thrust?

Some of the causes of tongue thrust include:

Signs and symptoms of tongue thrust

Common signs and symptoms of tongue thrust include:

  • The tongue is visible between the teeth or tongue protrusion. The tip of the tongue sticks out between the teeth, whether the child is resting, swallowing, or speaking.
  • Mouth breathing
  • Inability to close the lips completely
  • Open bite
  • Slow, fast, or messy eating
  • Speech impediment
  • Teeth are pushed out

Treatment for tongue thrust


Myofunctional therapy and speech therapy are done for the treatment of tongue thrust. The goal of myofunctional therapy is to develop a normal oral resting position where the lips and teeth are closed, and the tongue tip rests against the ridge behind the upper front teeth. Other recommendations may be made depending on the outcome of a proper OMD evaluation.

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