Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder

What is it?

An Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD), more commonly referred to as a “Tongue Thrust”, occurs when the tongue moves forward and back during speech and/or swallowing.  Often in this instance the tongue’s resting position is either pressing against some teeth or resting between the upper and lower teeth.

OMD and speech

When the tongue is not in the optimal position for speech, several sounds may be produced incorrectly.  The common speech sound errors are with the sounds /s/, /z/, /sh/, /j/, /ch/ and /zh/.  Sometimes other sounds are affected.  Some people feel like they sound “young“ or “immature” in their speech production as a result of a frontal tongue position.   However, speech is not always affected by OMD.

Myofunctional Therapy

While all Speech Language Pathologists are trained to work on speech sound production errors resulting from an incorrect tongue position, not all SLPs are trained in Myofunctional Therapy.  A Myofunctional Therapy approach will ensure all areas of the disorder are addressed including: tongue and lip resting position, speech sound production, chewing and swallowing.

Therapy can include:

  • increasing awareness of lip, tongue, and jaw muscles
  • improving muscle strength and coordination
  • improving speech sound productions
  • improving chewing and swallowing behaviours

Other considerations include:  airways (are the nasal passages blocked, are tonsils/ adenoids enlarged?), dental or orthodontic concerns (often a factor in planning Myofunctional Therapy), thumb/finger sucking, and lip biting.  It is common for SLPs to work in collaboration with other health care professionals.

The following sites provide further details about myofunctional therapy: