What Is Tongue Thrusting?

Tongue thrusting is an abnormal forward push of the tongue when eating, swallowing, or speaking. The tongue comprises dense connective tissue and movable muscles, making it exceptionally flexible. It can move back and forth in any direction. However, the muscles can become imbalanced, causing the tongue to thrust forward against the front teeth. When this occurs, a patient can develop an open bite, with the upper and lower front teeth misaligning. This irregular positioning is prevalent among infants, but they usually outgrow it by six months of age. If the issue persists, it can cause oral problems. An orthodontist can resolve tongue thrusting with various dental treatments.


The causes of tongue thrusting vary. It can result from prolonged thumb sucking, excessive use of pacifiers or baby bottles, and conditions like tongue-tie. Poor eating and swallowing habits can also cause tongue thrusting. Other causes include enlarged tonsils, nasal obstruction, and a narrow palate. Untreated pediatric dentistry issues can cause tongue thrusting in adults.


The symptoms of tongue thrusting are evident from childhood. They include abnormal speech patterns, an open bite, and the inability to close the lips. Other signs include breathing through the mouth, a visible tongue between the teeth, and difficulty eating. Younger patients may appear to have a longer than usual tongue and abnormal facial development.


Many children with tongue thrusting usually outgrow the condition within a few months. However, some patients might develop the condition in adulthood. Orthodontic treatment is one of the most effective solutions for tongue thrusting. An orthodontist may recommend various dental appliances to treat this problem. Patients may have to wear night guards, removable retainers, and tongue cribs to restrict the forward thrust of the tongue. Some patients might require myofunctional or speech therapy to treat the imbalanced tongue muscles. Treating an open bite can also help resolve the problem.


Tongue thrusting can cause several oral problems. Early intervention is critical to resolving the issue. Contact us to book an appointment with our orthodontist for professional treatment.

Skip to content