Your Child’s Tongue Could Inhibit Their Speech Development

Tongue problems seriously affect your child's ability to speak clearly and be understood. Proper tongue size and mobility are important to ensure proper word formation. When something is wrong with the tongue, then your child may be unable to pronounce certain sounds or could develop a lisp. Here is more information about common tongue problems that affect speech.

Types of Tongue Problems

Tongue problems come in different forms and affect speech in different ways. Here are some common examples.

Tongue Ties

Tongue ties are one of the most common tongue-related problems that affect speech. This condition involves the tissue that holds the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. In some cases, this tissue is tight or inflexible. This restricts the tongue's movement.

Over-sized Tongue

An over-sized tongue is where the tongue is abnormally large. Often, the tongue is so large it cannot be contained inside the mouth. This not only causes speech problems but also interferes with breathing and eating.

Tongue Thrust

Tongue thrust is when the tongue pushes forward against the teeth when a child swallows or speaks. Babies tend to move their tongue forward when they swallow. However, most children outgrow this by the time they start talking. Breathing and teeth problems can exacerbate this condition.

Open Mouth

Some children leave their mouth open when they are resting, while others do it because of breathing problems. This often brings the tongue forward. Initially, having an open mouth posture will not cause speech problems. However, if this problem is not addressed, then other facial muscles may be affected and cause problems in the future.

Causes of Tongue Problems

Many tongue problems are caused by genetics. For example, children with down syndrome may have an enlarged tongue. Other tongue problems are often caused by other issues with the nose and throat. Children with severe nasal conditions often breathe through their mouths and have open mouth problems. Bad habits like thumb sucking and teeth grinding can contribute to tongue thrust and mobility.

Treatment of Tongue Problems

Treatments for tongue-related speech problems depend on the cause. If the problem is caused by a bad habit, then behavioral therapy my help. Treatment of an underlying condition, like allergies or enlarged adenoids, may also be helpful. A few conditions may require surgical intervention, especially if the problem is caused by a structural problem.

A tongue anomaly can affect speech development and cause communication problems. If your child's tongue problem is mild, then speech therapy can help your child speak better with their condition. Because some tongue problems get worse without intervention, see a speech pathologist for a full diagnosis.

For more information, contact a speech pathology clinic like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head.