Tongue thrust, articulation, language and /k/ommunication

Digit Sucking

Thumb or finger sucking is an instinctive behavior that is normal for babies and young children. Beyond early childhood, however, habitual sucking is problematic. If sucking behaviors continue, your child’s dental, speech, physical, and emotional development may be negatively impacted.

Sucking changes the shape of the mouth, potentially resulting in an anterior open bite (where the front teeth do not appear to touch), protruding upper front teeth, a narrow and deep roof of the mouth, and a posterior cross bite (where the upper side of the teeth fit into the inside of the lower teeth).

Teeth that do not fit together properly (a condition called malocclusion) can affect the way a person chews and swallows; in particular, a child may have difficulty biting with the front teeth. The tongue may appear to push against the teeth when gathering food inside the mouth and when swallowing. The tongue may adjust to the improper position of the teeth and develop incorrect ways of resting and functioning. When speaking, the child may distort certain sounds (such as /t/, /d/, /n/, and /l/) because of the tongue being consistently pushed away from the palate by the thumb, finger, or other objects that are being sucked.

Thumb or finger sucking can accompany tongue thrusting and, together, they can severely distort the position of the teeth and facial bones. These habits can be eliminated through a targeted behavioral program that provides positive reinforcement and coaching.


The TALK SLP Difference

“Stress can be a powerful stimulus for thumb or finger sucking. My holistic approach to treatment provides gentle, noninvasive support and encouragement to help my client let go of this bad and damaging habit.”

Laura S. Smith,
Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Orofacial Myologist

Laura Smith is a certified orofacial myologist who has been specially trained in the area of effectively ending sucking habits. Laura will develop a tailored program for your child that is very encouraging, supportive, and noninvasive to bring this habit under control.

Goals of therapy:

  • Build awareness of healthy oral behaviors
  • Develop appropriate motivation to change habitual actions
  • Elimination of damaging habits through positive reinforcement and coaching 

Help is available!

Laura Smith, licensed speech-language pathologist and certified orofacial myologist, is specially trained to assist children and adults in overcoming their communication challenges. Her holistic approach takes into account the person as well as the problem.

Talk SLP LLC offices are located in the Northgate area of Seattle and on Mercer Island, allowing us to serve individuals and families throughout the greater Seattle region of Washington state. Telepractice appointments are also available, where clients can receive consultation and therapy services using online tools.

Contact us for more information or to make an appointment.