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Please contact Florida Speech if you would like to set up an appointment
for a tongue thrust evaluation and/or treatment.
Tongue Thrust Treatment:
- When a person is diagnosed as having a tongue thrust, this means that the person is an irregular swallowing pattern, and/or irregular tongue placement during speech. This irregular pattern is characterized by the tongue being seen protruding through the front teeth during eating, speaking, and swallowing.
- Tongue thrust can be diagnosed by a speech-language pathologist, an orthodontist, or dentist. Typically, if the tongue thrust is only present when eating or swallowing, it is the orthodontist that diagnoses the condition.
- Speech-language pathologists work with correcting tongue thrust issues because not only is it important for individuals to hold correct tongue placement when speaking, eating, and swallowing, but also for orthodontic reasons. When a person has tongue thrust present when swallowing, this pressure of the tongue on the teeth can cause the teeth to become misaligned, even with the aid of braces.
- Individuals with tongue thrust are encouraged to get treatment from a speech-language pathologist prior to having orthodontic treatment (i.e.: braces). This is because while the braces will allow for correct alignment of the teeth, this is only temporary. Once the braces have been removed, but the tongue thrust not corrected, the tongue will push the teeth out of alignment within a few months time, and the person will require another period with braces to realign the teeth. Many orthodontists will not start orthodontic treatment on their patients until the tongue thrust pattern has been treated and corrected.
- Speech-language pathologists treat tongue thrust through
a series of muscular exercises, called Myofunctional therapy.
Myofunctional therapy corrects deviant oro-facial motor patterns,
corrects oral musculature imbalances, and finally teaches the
correct swallowing patterns. It is important to note that tongue
thrust therapy must start with these musculature exercises
in order to strengthen and change the oro-facial muscles. Once
these muscles are primed and balanced the correct swallowing
pattern can then be taught.
- Tongue thrust therapy is a very successful therapy program,
when completed as prescribed. Typically, the individual is
seen by the speech-language pathologist once a week for 30
minutes. During this session the individual is taught a series
of exercises to help restore proper muscle function. The person
must then do these exercises at least three times per day over
the next week. This pattern of treatment and homework continues
for approximately eight weeks. After the initial eight weeks,
the correct swallowing pattern is heavily focused on. This
portion of treatment typically takes four sessions, with sessions
being conducted every other week.
- It should be noted that if the individual being treated does not complete the exercises at home for the minimum amount of time prescribed, the therapy will not be as successful, and could take more time to correct. This is why traditional tongue thrust therapy is not recommended for young children; the exercises require higher cognitive skills to complete, as well as the discipline to complete them on a daily basis. Tongue thrust therapy is usually successful with children ages 7 and up. (**It should be noted, however, that if a young child is demonstrating tongue thrust patterns when speaking, this can be treated effectively by a speech-language pathologist in children as young as 3-4 years of age.)
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