Tongue thrust is a condition in which the tongue protrudes from the mouth more than is expected. It can result in speech, posture, and dental problems if left untreated. Tongue thrust treatment can be performed by different methods, including speech therapy, habit counseling, and placement of the tongue’s crib.

Welcome! Today we’re going to tackle a topic that is often overlooked but can have serious implications if ignored: that is tongue thrust in children and adults.

This blog will provide an overview of what tongue thrust is, its causes and signs, how to identify tongue thrust in children and adults and treatment options. We will also discuss the benefits of treating tongue thrust, its relationship to speech delay, and the importance of seeking treatment.

What Is Tongue Thrust

Did You Know What Tongue Thrust Is?

Tongue thrust is also known as an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD). Tongue thrust is the incorrect tongue positioning relative to the teeth and lips when speaking, swallowing, or resting. This can lead to many issues, including speech impediments, poor posture, malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth), and even difficulty eating. It is often seen in young children but can also occur in adults.

General Causes of Tongue Thrust

The exact cause of tongue thrust is not fully understood. However, many experts believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors causes it.

Genetic factors may include a family history of tongue thrust or other Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). 

Environmental factors may include thumb-sucking, mouth breathing, and incorrect tongue placement during feeding. A cleft palate or other congenital disabilities can also cause tongue thrust.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue Thrust

The signs and symptoms of tongue thrust can vary depending on the individual. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Protruding of the tongue when at rest
  • Difficulty producing certain sounds
  • Swallowing with the tongue pushed forward
  • Poor posture
  • Malocclusion of the teeth
  • Open mouth breathing

If untreated, tongue thrust can lead to other speech and dental issues.

Tongue Thrust In Children

It is common to see tongue thirst in children, especially in those babies who are bottle-fed or breastfed. This swallowing pattern evolves with time as the child grows older.

In some cases, using some pacifiers and certain types of bottle nipples (wide-based or angled nipples) gives rise to abnormal thrust in children. This tongue thirst does not last with infancy and enters into early childhood as uncommon behavior.


  • Tongue tie: It is a potential cause of tongue thrust in children. It is a condition in which a group of tissues below the tongue is short or tight. 
  • Allergies: Tongue thrust in children can also be caused due to certain allergies, including adenoid and swollen tonsils. 
  • Poor habits of swallowing, Also known as reverse swallowing. 


Tongue thrust is often easiest to identify in young children. If you suspect your child may have tongue thrust, look for the signs and symptoms listed above. It is also important to observe your child’s speech and swallowing patterns.

If you notice any signs of tongue thrust, it is important to seek treatment. An experienced speech-language pathologist (SLP) can assess your child and provide a diagnosis.

Tongue Thrust In Adults

Tongue Thrust In Adults

Tongue thrust in adults is an uncommon condition that people may carry to their adulthood as they did not leave this habit in their childhood. 

People with tongue thirst may have some difficulty in speaking and swallowing. 

They may have elongated facial structures due to tongue thirst that causes the inability to close the mouth properly. They may experience “ open bite,” in which they face trouble while eating.


In some cases, tongue thirst in an adult could have developed due to allergies like adenoids and tonsils. Stress is another factor that contributes to the development of tongue thrust in adulthood.


Identifying tongue thrust in adults can be more challenging. One of the best ways to identify tongue thrust in adults is to observe their speech and swallowing patterns. If you notice any signs of tongue thrust, it is important to seek treatment.

A speech-language pathologist (SLP) can assess an adult and provide a diagnosis. Additionally, your dentist can help identify any malocclusion of the teeth caused by tongue thrust.

Tongue Thrust Treatment

The treatment for tongue thrust depends on the individual and the severity of the condition. Generally, treatment involves a combination of oral motor therapy and habit counseling.

1. Placement Of Tongue’s Crib

Tongue Thrust treatment in children and adults is almost similar, having one exception, which is the placement of an orthodontic device. This orthodontic device is also known as the tongue’s crib, and it is placed on the roof of the child’s mouth. 

2. Motor Therapy

Oral motor therapy involves exercises to strengthen the muscles of the mouth and jaw. These exercises can help to improve tongue placement and speech production.

3. Orofacial Myology

Orofacial myology is a type of ongoing therapy that tends to correct the placement of jaws, lips, and tongue. This therapy also helps to correct swallowing habits and to treat open bites. 

4. Habit Counselling

Habit counseling focuses on changing behaviors that can contribute to tongue thrust. This may include stopping thumb-sucking, avoiding mouth breathing, and learning proper feeding techniques.

Benefits of Treating Tongue Thrust

Treating tongue thrust can have a number of benefits. These include improved speech production, improved posture, improved facial expression, and improved dental alignment. Additionally, treating tongue thrust can help to reduce the risk of speech delays.

Who Can Diagnose Tongue Thrust

Tongue Thrust can be diagnosed by the following healthcare professionals.

  • General practitioners
  • pediatrician
  • Dentist
  • Orthodontist
  • Speech-language Pathologist

Tongue Thrust and Speech Delay

tongue thrust exercises handout

Tongue thrust can lead to speech delays in some individuals. This is because incorrect tongue placement can make it difficult to produce certain sounds. In addition, some children may develop a lisp or other speech impediment due to tongue thrust.

It is important to seek treatment for tongue thrust as soon as possible to help prevent speech delays. An SLP can provide individualized treatment and help your child develop proper speech production.


Tongue thrust is an often overlooked but important condition that can affect development in both children and adults. It can lead to speech, posture, and dental problems if left untreated. If you suspect your child or adult has tongue thrust, seek help from an experienced SLP…Tongue thrust is a treatable condition, and its effect can be minimized with the right treatment.