The tongue’s job is to lift up and retract back to close off the airway for the swallow. If the tongue is unable to make these movements due to oral restriction or muscle weakness, it will compensate by thrusting forward to initiate the swallow. An incorrect swallow pattern, often called “tongue thrust” or forward swallow, has been shown to have a negative impact on facial development. A forward swallow pattern will contribute to a low forward tongue posture at rest, narrowing of the palate, malocclusion, and orthodontic relapse. Swallowing is a learned reflex. If the structural cause of the incorrect swallow is corrected (e.g., release of restricted frenulum, maxillary expansion…etc.) this will not automatically change the function. Correct swallow pattern must be relearned.
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