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What does tongue thrust mean?

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Quick Answer

Tongue thrust is an unusual condition in which the tongue protrudes from the anterior incisors when swallowing, speaking or while the tongue is at rest. This condition is generally normal during the early stages of infancy but as the child grows, the condition should subside on its own, notes the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

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Full Answer

Tongue thrust can sometimes be referred to as immature swallow or reverse swallow. Heredity and thumb sucking are common factors that may contribute to the development of this condition. Other factors include an enlarged tongue, large tonsils, ankyloglossia, allergies, nose congestion and some types of artificial nipples used for child feeding.

Children who continue having tongue thrust are likely to develop impaired speech patterns and may look differently from other children of the same age, notes the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Diagnosis of this condition is often done by observing the child's development and physical examination. Medical professionals also rule out possible airway problems during diagnosis.

In certain cases, treatment can be done by the aid of a device that holds the mouth and tongue in the right position during the night. The device may be temporary or permanent. Speech therapy is another option that can be used to treat this condition.

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