How to Stop Tongue Thrusting: A Comprehensive Guide to Overcoming this Habit Now

Head and shoulders portrait of two years old grimacing blonde girl
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How to stop tongue thrusting, especially in the case of a tongue tie, might not be a question you ask every day, but for many parents dealing with young children, it’s the most challenging problem to solve. These bad habits can subtly creep into daily life, impacting the muscles of the face and causing potential speech problems, tooth decay, and orthodontic issues.

how to stop tongue thrusting
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Fortunately, general dentists are equipped with the knowledge and tools to address these issues, and with their assistance, the easiest way to overcome this habit can be found. Whether you’re a worried parent or an adult grappling with this habit, this comprehensive guide offers practical strategies to end this habit effectively. Let’s embark on this journey on how to stop tongue thrusting today!

What is Tongue Thrusting?

This may not be a term we hear every day, but it’s a subject that carries significant importance for many individuals and families. We must pay attention to it, especially if it becomes a persistent habit. So, what exactly is this habit? Let’s dive into the details.

Definition and Detailed Description

A tongue thrust is sometimes called an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) and reverse swallow or immature swallow. It is when the tongue pushes against or between the teeth while swallowing, speaking, or resting. This action of the tongue muscles can lead to various dental and speech issues if it becomes a recurring behavior. Understanding the definition of this habit is the first step in recognizing this habit in oneself or others.

Common Misconceptions

It’s easy to misunderstand or overlook the tongue thrust habit, especially since it can be subtle. Some common misconceptions include believing it’s a phase in young children or only linked to speech disorders. However, the reality is that this habit can persist into adulthood and may be connected to more complex dental and muscular issues.

How it Manifests in Different Age Groups?

Orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) doesn’t discriminate by age. It’s often seen as a natural part of development in early childhood, but if not addressed, it can continue into adolescence and even adulthood. The habit can lead to dental problems and speech challenges in adults, making it vital to understand how this condition manifests across different life stages. Whether it’s a child learning to speak or an adult struggling with dental alignment, the impact of the tongue pushing in this habit is far-reaching.

The Causes of Tongue Thrusting

This lousy habit is not merely a random behavior; it’s often the result of several underlying factors. To truly understand it, we must look into the genetics, development, and habits that may contribute to this condition. Here’s a straightforward breakdown of the leading potential causes.

The Role of Genetics

Genetic factors may contribute to this habit in not immediately apparent ways. Here are some examples:

  • Hereditary Traits: If a family has a history of this orofacial myofunctional disorder, new generations might inherit this tendency.
  • Jaw Structure: Genetic factors may lead to jaw structures that promote this habit.

Developmental Factors

Developmental considerations also play an essential role in the emergence of this habit. Understanding these factors requires a close examination of various developmental stages:

  • Infant Growth Patterns: Infants often naturally thrust their tongues but usually disappear with growth.
  • Delayed or Impaired Speech Development: Issues with speech development might lead to prolonged tongue thrusting.

Habits and Behavioral Triggers

The habits and behavioral triggers often lead to continued tongue thrusting, especially if they form early on in a child’s life. Here’s how:

  • Using Pacifiers and Bottles: Extended use of pacifiers and bottles can lead to this problem.
  • Thumb-Sucking: This common childhood habit may cause or exacerbate the issue.
  • Specific Eating Behaviors: Certain eating habits might reinforce the behavior over time.

Medical Interventions and Their Role

Medical interventions might be necessary in more severe cases or where underlying medical conditions contribute to this habit. These can include:

  • Orthodontic Appliance: Devices designed to guide the tongue into the correct position.
  • Surgical Procedures: In rare cases, surgical interventions might be needed to correct physical abnormalities contributing to the issue.

How To Stop Tongue Thrusting 

Tongue thrusting might seem persistent and unmanageable, but keep hope. Various treatment plans are available, ranging from professional therapy to medical interventions. Explore these options to understand what might work best for you or your loved ones.

Professional Therapy Options for This Habit

When it comes to professional therapy options, there’s quite a variety to choose from, depending on the individual’s specific needs:

  • Speech Therapy: Working with a speech therapist can help retrain the tongue and facial muscles.
  • Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy: This specialized therapy focuses on correcting the tongue’s position and movement.
  • Behavioral Modification Techniques: Behavioral experts can help unlearn and replace the thrusting habit with more functional behaviors.

Can Braces Be a Solution for Tongue Thrusting? 

This habit can be pesky to break, but what about using braces to treat it? It’s a common question, and the answer might be more intricate than you think. Let’s delve into the orthodontic approaches, weigh the pros and cons, and discuss how collaboration between professionals can make a difference.

Understanding Orthodontic Approaches

Orthodontic treatment and approaches are a prominent method to address tongue thrusting, especially when it leads to dental misalignment. Here’s what this involves:

  • Specialized Braces: Braces specifically designed to correct the tongue’s position and eliminate thrusting.
  • Customized Treatment Plans: Every individual’s condition is unique, and orthodontists often tailor treatments accordingly.

The Pros and Cons of Using Braces

The pros and cons of using braces for this habit can vary. Here’s a look at both sides:


  • Targeted Correction: Braces can correct both dental and tongue positioning problems.
  • Long-Term Solutions: With proper care and follow-up, results tend to be lasting.


  • Costly: Braces can be expensive treatment options.
  • Possible Discomfort: They might cause discomfort or require a lengthy adjustment period.

The Importance of Collaboration Between Orthodontists and Speech Therapists

It’s about more than just the hardware; effective treatment often requires collaboration between orthodontists and speech therapists. Here’s why:

  • Holistic Treatment: Combining orthodontic and speech therapy can address the issue from all angles.
  • Tailored Strategies: A multidisciplinary approach ensures the best-customized plan for each individual.
  • Enhanced Results: Working together, these professionals can often achieve more effective and lasting results.

A Practical Guide to Conquering Tongue Habits at Home

The journey to overcome this habit doesn’t always have to lead you to a professional’s office. Believe it or not, there are exercises you can do right at home to help address this habit. Let’s explore this path, focusing on specific activities, the value of consistency, and handy tools that can assist you.

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Exercises

Here’s a simple exercise, a step-by-step guide to help you take control of the situation:

  • Positioning: Start by placing the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  • Pressing: Press and hold for a few seconds, then relax.
  • Repeating: Repeat this exercise several times daily.

These exercises focus on strengthening the tongue muscles, training them to rest and move more beneficially.

Emphasizing Consistency and Patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits changed over time. Consistency and patience are key:

  • Daily Practice: Make these exercises a regular part of your daily routine.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Recognize that progress may be slow but steady.
  • Stay Positive: Celebrate small achievements and keep pushing forward.

Tools and Aids to Assist With At-home Therapy

You don’t have to go it alone. There are tools and aids designed to make at-home therapy more effective:

  • Myofunctional Tools: Devices that support proper position and movement of the tongue.
  • Mirrors: Use a mirror to monitor and correct your exercises.
  • Guides and Apps: Many online resources offer guidance tailored to your needs.

FAQs About That Peculiar Tongue Habit

Do you have a few head-scratchers about this common issue but often misunderstood behavior? Here’s a rundown of the most frequently asked questions. Let’s dive in!

Who Does Tongue Thrusting It Affect?

Surprisingly, it’s not just a kid’s thing. People of all ages can be affected, each with unique challenges and manifestations.

Is Tongue Thrusting the Same as Thumb Sucking?

No, but both are considered oral habits that might need attention if persistent.

Can Tongue Thrusting Cause Long-Term Problems?

Left unchecked may lead to dental health, orthodontic issues, or speech difficulties.

Is Professional Help Required To Stop Tongue Thrusting?

Not necessarily. Some can manage it with at-home exercises and awareness, while others might need professional guidance.

How Long Does It Take to Overcome Tongue Thrusting?

No one-size-fits-all here. The duration varies widely depending on the individual and method used.

Can Tongue Thrusting Come Back After Treatment?

Yes, relapses can happen, especially without consistent follow-up and maintenance.

Your Journey to Stop Tongue Thrusting

Tackling the common problem of how to stop the habit, especially when it involves a child’s tongue, doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. The good news is that many cases of this habit can be successfully managed with a comprehensive understanding of the underlying cause and practical strategies, including specific therapy for the child’s tongue. Whether you’re exploring professional interventions with specialists or at-home exercises, consistency, patience, and personalized care are essential.

Remember, you’re not alone in this journey; a wealth of support and resources are available to guide you. Ultimately, overcoming this habit is feasible and may improve overall health and well-being in the long run.

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