Dental Problems

Tongue Thrusting -Definitions and Classification

TongueTongue thrusting is one of the conditions during the developing malocclusion and its management. In this article, there is a brief discussion on the tongue thrusting -definitions and classification. Read on to know more.

Tongue thrusting

In embryonic life, the developing tongue is considered disproportionately large in comparison to the developing mandible and it fills the embryonic nasal cavity.

The lower jaw of the infant is usually behind the upper jaw. Vertically a space is present between the gum pads. During the infantile swallow the tongue is between the gumpads in close apposition with lips and its contraction pl us those of the facial muscles help to stabilize the mandible. The mandibular elevators show a minimal activity.

During the latter half of the first year of life, several maturational events occur that alter the functioning of the orofacial musculature. With the arrival of incisors the tongue assumes a retracted posture and initiates the learning of mastication. As soon as bilateral posterior occlusion is established, true chewing motions are seen to start and the learning of the mature swallow begins.

Gradually the fifth cranial muscles assume the role of mandibular stabilization during the swallow. The muscles of facial expression begin to learn the delicate and complicated functions of speech and facial expression. If the transition of infantile to mature swallow does not take place with the eruption of teeth, then it leads to what is known as the tongue thrust swallow.


  • Brauer (1965):

    A tongue thrust was said to be present if the tongue was observed thrusting between, and the teeth did not close in centric occlusion during deglutition.

  • Tulley (1969):

    Tulley states tongue thrust as the forward movement of the tongue tip between the teeth to meet the lower lip during deglutition and in sounds of speech, so that the tongue becomes interdental.

  • Barber (1975):

    Tongue thrust is an oral habit pattern related to the persistence of an infantile swallow pattern during childhood and adolescence and thereby produces an open bite and protrusion of the anterior tooth segments.

  • Schneider (1982):

    Tongue thrust is a forward placement of the tongue between the anterior teeth and against the lower lip during swallowing.


  1. Physiologic:

    This comprises of the normal tongue thrust swallow of infancy.

  2. Habitual:

    The tongue thrust swallow is present as a habit even after the correction of the malocclusion.

  3. Functional:

    When the tongue thrust mechanism is an adaptive behavior developed to achieve an oral seal, it can be grouped as functional.

  4. Anatomic:

    Persons having enlarged tongue can have an anterior tongue posture.

The above article discusses about the

tongue thrusting definitions and classifications.

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