Juvenile Suck Thrust

The baby’s swallowing reflex projects the tongue forward which allows the baby to wrap their tongue around a nipple. This reflex matures to the adult swallow reflex whereby the tongue moves backwards to push a bolus of food down the throat.

If a Juvenile Suck Thrust is not adequately integrated, the tongue projects forwards before moving backward in the normal swallow. This tongue thrust continually pushes against the back of the front teeth. We swallow thousands of times each day just for saliva and this continual pressure can push the front teeth forward. This causes a ‘class 2 occlusion’ otherwise known as an overbite, one of the common problems requiring orthodontics or orofacial orthopaedics. It is a huge problem for dentists and their patients. The correction for retention of this reflex can be at any time of life however correction as early as possible is of course preferable. It may save the formation of buck teeth, an overbite and narrow upper palate, or recurrence of the overbite after orthodontic intervention.

Poor fine motor skills may be experienced due to the Babkin response, whereby the hands knead as the mouth sucks. This is a two-way response; hand movements may affect speech, just as chewing or speech may affect fine motor of the hands. This association is also discussed under Palmar Reflex below.