Tongue thrusting, also known as an orofacial myofunctional disorder, is the chronic pressing of the tongue against the lips with a force that can lead to the protrusion of teeth. Tongue thrust happens when the tongue is situated too far forward in the mouth or extends between the top and bottom teeth while swallowing or speaking. A tongue thrust can cause long-term dental issues.

A tongue thrust, commonly referred to as a reverse or immature swallow, can usually be observed when a child is talking or swallowing. During infancy, tongue thrust is considered normal, however, when a child begins to transition to their first foods, they have typically outgrown this pattern. If a child continues to present with the tongue thrust after age 6, it can cause havoc on not only speech skills but also on the alignment of teeth later.

How a Tongue Thrust Affects Your Child’s Speech

Children with a tongue thrust often have difficulty with the pronunciation of certain sounds, like: “s” and “z” are often pronounced with a “th”, due to the placement of the tongue when speaking. Children with a tongue thrust may sound like they have a lisp because of the placement of their tongue when making certain speech sounds. Speech pathologists can help change your child’s swallowing pattern and build on the chewing muscles to stop tongue thrusting, averting long-term dental issues. For more information on tongue thrusting and how it affects your child’s speech, please reference the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s website,

How a Tongue Thrust Affects Your Child’s Teeth

When the tongue applies an excessive amount of pressure onto the teeth daily, this can have a profound effect on the placement and growth of your child’s teeth. Children with a tongue thrust may require orthodontic treatment to help resolve the misalignment of the jaw and teeth that may result from the increased pressure by their tongue. Tongue thrusting may also interfere with normal tooth eruption.

If you believe your child may have a tongue thrust, call Drs. James and Samuel Owens office today 918.455.7700. We can diagnose the problem, and help monitor your child’s jaw development and alignment of teeth.