As your child grows, some of the reflexes they had as babies integrate, or fade away to be replaced with intentional action. For example, if you put your finger against a baby’s palm, they will grasp it—that’s a reflex. As they get older, they gain control of that reflex so they can grasp or let go of things at will. But if these reflexes don’t integrate, it can impact your child’s overall development. Tongue thrust is one of these reflexes. If your child is struggling with tongue thrust, our caring speech-language pathologists are here to help. Keep reading to find out what tongue thrust is, why it should be addressed, and how pediatric speech therapy can help integrate it.
What Is Tongue Thrust?
Tongue thrust is the reflex babies have that causes their tongue to push forward out of their mouth. It is an important reflex because it is how babies get their milk from the breast or bottle. Tongue thrust also helps babies push food away from their throat so they don’t choke. This reflex typically integrates (or goes away) between 4 to 7 months old.
When it doesn’t integrate and isn’t treated, it can lead to speech struggles, dental health problems, and can even change the shape of your child’s face over time.
Common Causes of Tongue Thrust
There are several common causes of tongue thrust in toddlers and older children. These include:
- Using poorly-designed pacifiers or bottle nipples
- Sucking on pacifiers, bottle nipples, or thumbs after 12 months old
- Being born with a tongue-tie
- Having swollen tonsils from chronic allergies
Signs of Tongue Thrust
The signs of tongue-thrust in school-aged children include:
- Mouth breathing
- Tongue sticking out from their teeth
- Speech struggles, such as a lisp
- An open bite or crooked teeth
- Face scrunches when swallowing
- Trouble swallowing
- Lips can’t completely close
- Chapped or sore lips from constant licking
How Can Speech Therapy Address Tongue Thrust?
Our caring pediatric speech-language pathologists are experts in oral motor control and reflex integration. We use proven therapeutic exercises, techniques, and activities to help children overcome tongue thrust. We can also give you tips and activities you can do at home with your child to help them continue building their oral motor skills between therapy sessions. With our one-on-one treatment and your support, we can work together to help your child integrate their tongue thrust reflex.
Benefits of Pediatric Speech Therapy for Tongue Thrust
With routine therapy, your child can experience many excellent benefits such as:
- Better ability to swallow their food without choking
- Proper development of face and jaw
- Reduced risk of dental problems
- Improved speech clarity
Schedule Your Child’s Evaluation
Pediatric Therapy Partners has clinics in Bossier and Shreveport, LA, to meet your family’s needs. All you have to do is call us at (318) 746-1199 or fill out the contact form below and our Intake Coordinator will help you schedule your child’s speech therapy evaluation.