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Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

What Are 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

Signs and Symptoms

  • Speech distortion, particularly a frontal lisp
  • Chronic open mouth positioning
  • Dental abnormalities, such as overjet and open bite
  • Tongue thrust is 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.

Evaluation Process

A speech-language pathologist assesses the structures 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 foods and liquids. Pictures are taken to record the child's dental structures. The speech-language pathologist may recommend the child see an an allergy doctor, ENT doctor, or orthodontist.


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

  • Tongue and facial resting postures
  • Swallowing
  • Speech sound production

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

Cincinnati Children's

As a national leader in pediatric speech-language pathology, Cincinnati Children's has a program for 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-language pathologists. We welcome referrals from primary care providers and specialty doctors.

Last Updated 03/2019

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