Tongue thrusting, which can sometimes be called reverse swallow or immature swallow is not uncommon in babies. Generally it is a completely normal reflex that is commonly seen when a baby is taking a bottle or nursing.
However, it can also be a sign that your child has an abnormality that may need to be addressed by our office. Together, we can assess the situation and prevent any long term complications that can have a lasting effect on your child's oral health.
Orofacial Muscular Imbalance
Oral facial muscular imbalance is the technical name for tongue thrusting. While it's common and generally not a harmful reflex, if your child doesn't grow out of this behavior, it could be an indication that your baby may have a more complex problem. Normal tongue thrusting is noticed mostly when a baby is feeding, the tongue is extended and this helps the baby to suckle from the breast or bottle.
After your baby is done nursing, you shouldn't notice the tongue still sticking out. Also being aware of difficulty your baby may be experiencing while chewing or swallowing is helpful.
The average human being can swallow up to 2,000 times per day, and if your child is thrusting their tongue forward with each swallow, this can cause malformation of the teeth leading to many dental issues later in life. It's not uncommon for a child who has prolonged orofacial muscular imbalance to develop a lisp when speaking or have poor tooth alignment.
If your baby is over 6 months old and you're still noticing excessive tongue thrust, prolonged sucking, difficulty chewing food or swallowing, please give our office a call right away and schedule an appointment. Together, we can work to correct the negative behavioral pattern and prevent any long term complications. Your child's oral health is our first priority and we look forward to hearing from you!