Do Tongue Exercises Help Speech?

Do Tongue Exercises Help Speech?

Developing speech and language skills involves many aspects of communication, including articulation, pronunciation, language processing, phonological awareness, and the production of specific speech sounds and sound combinations. In addition to controlling airflow and coordinating the parts necessary for speech production, the strength, flexibility, and movement of the tongue are essential for clear and effective speech and communication. The tongue is a flexible muscle that is critical for speech production. Exercises focusing on strengthening the tongue and encouraging precise movements and placements for specific sound production can benefit articulation and general oral motor skills. 

An experienced speech and language pathologist is an expert at helping people of all ages overcome communication challenges and improve their overall speech, language, and communication abilities. Speech therapy often includes specific tongue exercises to help target the particular challenge or deficit of the individual they are working with. 

If you or a loved one struggles with articulation or another speech difficulty, speech therapy can help you boost your confidence and improve your speech. You can start with us today by simply scheduling your free introductory call

Why are Tongue Exercises Necessary? 

Targeted exercises help support the development of coordination and control of the tongue, which is necessary for producing a wide range of speech sounds, sound combinations, and words. Certain tongue exercises can promote the improvement of the following:

Articulation: The tongue plays a major role in articulating speech sounds. Some speech sounds require precise tongue moments, especially sounds such as t, d, and, n, as well as l, and r. Strengthening the tongue muscles can help facilitate clearer and more accurate articulation.

Oral Motor Skills: Strong tongue muscles support the development of oral motor skills which are fundamental for various speech-related functions. Skills such as speaking, eating, swallowing, and chewing fall under the category of oral motor skills.

Muscle Coordination: Tongue exercises help develop strong muscle control, leading to better coordination for speech production. Tongue exercises can also help create smooth transitions between speech sounds and words.

For individuals facing speech and language difficulties, practicing tongue exercises with the guidance and support of a speech and language pathologist can help strengthen their tongue and improve articulation. They can provide custom-tailored therapy plans that include targeted exercises and proven techniques for individuals of all ages. If you are ready to start your speech therapy journey, look no further than Great Speech. Connect with us by scheduling your free introductory call today!

What Are Some Examples of Tongue Exercises?

Tongue Rolling: Roll your tongue into a tube shape by curling the sides of your tongue upward and inward toward the center. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax. 

Tongue Curling: Curl the tip of your tongue backward toward the back of your mouth as far as possible. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax. 

Tongue Stretching: Open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out as far as possible, trying to touch your chin with the tip of your tongue. Hold this position for a few seconds, then relax. You can also move your tongue from side to side as far as it will go in each direction.

Tongue Tapping: Tap the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, moving from side to side or in a circular motion. Focus on maintaining a steady rhythm and controlled movements.

Tongue Tracing: Use your tongue to trace the outline of your lips, teeth, and gums. Start from one corner of your mouth and move slowly to the other side, paying attention to the sensation and movement of your tongue.

Resistance Tongue Exercises: Use a tongue depressor or your finger to provide resistance against your tongue's movements during various exercises, such as pushing, pulling, or pressing against the resistance.

Are Tongue Exercises Good for the Brain?

Tongue exercises focus primarily on strengthening the tongue muscles and improving speech functions. However, they may indirectly benefit brain health in several ways, including:

Neuroplasticity: Tongue exercises can stimulate the brain's ability to reorganize and adapt, a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. Regularly practicing certain tongue exercises can enhance the connections between neurons responsible for motor control and speech production.

Speech and Language Processing: Speech production involves complex interactions and processes between various brain areas. Tongue exercises that improve speech articulation and clarity may also activate regions of the brain responsible for language processing and motor control.

Cognitive Function: Some tongue exercises require concentration, coordination, and memory, which can engage cognitive processes, including attention, executive function, and working memory. Regularly practicing these exercises may help maintain or improve cognitive function over time.

Oral Health: Tongue exercises can support oral health by improving tongue posture and promoting saliva production. Good oral health is associated with a reduced risk of medical conditions that may impact brain health, such as cardiovascular disease and dementia.

While tongue exercises alone may not directly benefit the brain in the same way that activities like puzzles or memory games they can contribute to overall brain health by supporting speech and language function, cognitive processes, and oral health. As with any strength or exercise routine, consistent practice and proper technique are key to optimizing the benefits.

Do Tongue Exercises Work? How do you Strengthen your Speech Muscles?

Yes, tongue exercises can improve oral function, speech production, and articulation. They are also effective at strengthening your speech muscles and enhancing speech sound clarity, as well as pronunciation. These exercises can be particularly beneficial for individuals with speech disorders such as dysarthria or articulation disorders.

Tongue exercises can also enhance oral motor control, coordination, and range of motion, which are essential for various oral functions such as chewing, sucking, and blowing. Improved oral motor control can benefit individuals with oral apraxia or dyspraxia. Speech-language pathologists commonly tailor these exercises as part of a customized speech therapy treatment program. 

While tongue exercises can be effective, their success depends on various factors such as the specific diagnosis of the individual, as well as any underlying conditions, the consistency of practice, outside support and encouragement, and the guidance of a qualified professional. Performing and practicing tongue exercises correctly and under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist is essential to ensure safety and overall effectiveness. It is important to note that tongue exercises are typically just one element of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes other techniques and approaches. 

If you think you or a loved one would benefit from working with a speech therapist to strengthen your speech muscles and improve articulation, don’t wait to get started. At Great Speech, we provide the highest quality speech therapy through our accessible and convenient online platform. Connecting with one of our incredible therapists begins by scheduling your free introductory call today!