Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD)

An orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) is when there is an abnormal lip, jaw, or tongue position during rest, swallowing, or speech. You may also see this when there are prolonged oral habits, like thumb or finger sucking.

OMD can be caused by:

  • Upper airway obstruction
  • Chronic finger or thumb sucking
  • Extended pacifier or bottle use
  • Orofacial muscular and structural differences
  • Genetics
  • Speech distortion, particularly a frontal lisp
  • Chronic open mouth positioning
  • Dental abnormalities, such as overjet and open bite
  • Tongue thrust: when the tongue pushes against or between the teeth during speech or swallowing
  • For more information, go to the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) website.

A speech-language pathologist assesses the structure and the way the lip, cheeks, teeth, jaws and tongue move. This is done by watching the child speak and also watching how he or she swallows solid foods and liquids. Pictures are taken to record the child's dental structure. The speech-language pathologist may recommend the child be seen by an allergy doctor, ENT doctor, or orthodontist.

Each child’s treatment program is different and focuses on:

  • Tongue and facial resting postures
  • Swallowing
  • Speech articulation

Children often need help and encouragement from their family to practice their treatment exercises. You will see the best results when the family works with their child every day.

If your child's speech is a concern to you, contact the Division of Speech-Language Pathology at Cincinnati Children's at 513-636-4341 and ask to speak to a speech-language pathologist.

As a national leader in pediatric speech pathology, Cincinnati Children's has a program for the treatment of OMD. This program is staffed by speech-language pathologists who have special training in the evaluation and treatment of OMD. Patients who have this disorder are often referred by orthodontists, dentists, and other speech pathologists. We welcome referrals from primary care providers and specialty doctors.

If your child's speech is a concern to you, contact the Division of Speech-Language Pathology at Cincinnati Children's at 513-636-4341. 


Last Updated 05/2013