Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tongue Thrust Therapy Practice on Myself



Today I did some swallowing practice exercises that I usually do with kiddos who have oral motor issues or lisps or a tongue thrust, on myself because of some dental work I had done yesterday.

I wish that I had taken better care of my teeth. And I look forward to 10 years from now when I can say "I remember 10 years ago when I decided to really take care of my teeth" but for now, I am at the beginning of this journey. Don't get me wrong, I brush my teeth twice every day and (now) I floss daily and they look pretty ok, but I didn't get a cleaning done for about 5 years. And the time before that was, well, I can't remember the time before that.

It's not that I don't like dentists, and my new dentist is pretty nice. It's just the scheduling of the appointment and taking off work or having someone watch my kids or it's 11:00 at night there won't be anyone at the front desk to make the appointment or whatever other excuse seems to be popping into my head that kept me from just doing it.

But about 2 months ago I bit the bullet and made the call. Not to my surprise, I needed a lot of work to repair cavities, replace cracking fillings and a pretty intensive cleaning job. I am more than half way through this process now. I've got the cleaning, x-rays and 3 out of the 4 quadrants of my mouth taken care of.

Yesterday I did the whole left side: top and bottom. Today, I am very, very sore. I am super sensitive to cold and hot and sweet and room temperature. I am having to drink through a straw to avoid the liquids from touching my teeth and I can only chew on one side. I know that this is temporary but I am having to really concentrate on swallowing and eating carefully.

Eating, chewing and swallowing are activities that many of us take for granted. I am currently working with a few kiddos who have tongue thrusts. One of them is at the part of the program where she is practicing swallowing pudding/yogurt type foods. She has done great with thin liquids and this step is proving to be more challenging.

As we practiced together last week, we talked about what our tongues were doing while we swallowed and used a mirror to watch carefully and in detail as we took teeny tiny bites of pudding.

I am usually not quite so focused when I swallow, as I would guess most people would also not be.  But then today as I carefully - very carefully - sipped my hot cup of coffee and later ate soggy cereal (so that I didn't have to chew it) and now as I am sipping my yogurt smoothie, I am highly aware of what each part of my mouth is doing as I swallow! I am using those techniques that I teach to my kiddos who tongue thrust to swallow each bite that I take.

I have more empathy now for how my kiddos have to practice and how much work it is! I asked my dentist how many times we swallow a day but he had no idea. So after some internet research (so don't quote me!) the consensus is between 600-2000 times a day. That's a lot! My kiddos who tongue thrust have to retrain themselves to swallow correctly 600-2000 times a day. That's a lot of practicing to replace incorrect habits.


If your child has a tongue thrust or reverse swallow there are somethings to look out for:

  1. Open Bite
  2. Gap in between front teeth or pushed out front teeth
  3. Other dental issues, especially involving the front teeth
  4. Tongue sticking out when swallowing
  5. Frequent lip licking (cracked/chapped lips) especially after a bite or sip
  6. Mouth Breathing
  7. Drooling
  8. Weak facial muscles
  9. Frontal and / or lateral lisp
  10. Tongue sticking out when saying (any or all of the following): t, d, n or l
  11. Referral from the dentist

While any of these signs could point to a tongue thrust, your child may demonstrate one or more of these signs and it might not be a tongue thrust but something else altogether. In addition, your child might not demonstrate these and may still have a tongue thrust. This is where a thorough evaluation is very important, then appropriate therapy to address any issues that were identified.

It's always an interesting day when I end up doing therapy techniques on myself. Now that you are thinking about it, have you noticed anything about your swallowing?


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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