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Healthy Mouth, Healthy Kids

Baby tongue problem



Is the constant thrusting of the tongue (very long) of a baby an indication of mental retardation? The baby does not have Downs Syndrome.


Tongue thrust can be influenced by many factors; among these are feeding problems, oral motor dysfunction (in which the 'coordination' of muscle groups that control actions such as swallowing, etc. are off), and skeletal open bites (in which teeth don't overlap when the mouth is closed and leave a gap that the tongue rests in). Some reports note frequent tongue 'thrusting' or movements in relation to teething as well. While there are syndromes that include both mental retardation and oral motor problems, these two can exist independently, and careful examination by a pediatrician and a pediatric dentist will help determine any potential causes.

Thanks for this interesting question.

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Response by:

Sarath  Thikkurissy, DDS, MS Sarath Thikkurissy, DDS, MS
Director, Residency Program, Division of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati