Oral Motor


An Oral motor deficit involves weakness and limited range or motion of the structures of the oral cavity possibly due to neurological damage or structural anomalies. May interfere with feeding, swallowing, and articulation.

  • Characteristics may include:

    • Drooling

    • Anterior loss of food or liquid

    • Pooling/pocketing of food

    • Delayed swallow

    • Abnormal suck-swallow-breath pattern

    • Difficulty masticating food (chewing)

    • Consistent open-mouth posture

  • Oral Motor Therapy Techniques:

    • Use a mirror to help with the following exercises.

    1. Tongue Push-ups:  Have the child use his tongue to hold a cheerio on the ridge behind the teeth.

    2. Blowing Bubbles: Focuses on lip rounding and breath
      control. If you can find edible bubbles, have the child
      pop the bubbles with his tongue for added strenthening!

    3. Use lollipops:  You can use round lollipops in several ways including stretching the cheeks and having the child lateralize and elevate his tongue.

    4. Silly Faces: Use a mirror to make silly faces at each other.

    5. Pucker-Smile: Have the child pucker his lips “rounded” to form the “OOO” sound. Then transition to a smile with the back teeth closed together saying “EEE”. Have the child alternate once they have mastered each separately.

    6. Fishy Face:  Pucker lips and suck in checks to make a “fishy face”.

    7. Clucking: Have the child cluck the tongue in loud and soft repetitions. To achieve this, have the child suck his tongue up on the roof of his mouth, pull back and release it hard.

    8. Brushing: You can use various textures to stimulate the oral cavity. You may want to try using a toothbrush, Q-tip, ice, etc. to provide tactile awareness on the lips, tongue, cheeks, etc.

    9. Tongue lateralizing: Stick out tongue and move it from side to side without touching the lips.

    10. Follow the Leader:  Have the child use his tongue to follow your finger around the inside and outside of his mouth.

    11. PB Lick: Put peanut butter on the child’s upper lip and/or hard palate and aveolar ridge and have him use his tongue to lick it off.

    12. Blowing: Use a piece of cotton and a straw. Have the child use the straw to blow the cotton across the table. Play racing games to see who can blow the cotton the farthest.

    13. Drinking: Use a straw for drinking instead of just a cup. This will allow the child more sucking practice.

    14. Massage and stretching: gently massage and stretch the oral peripheral area.

    15. Tongue in cheek: Have the child push his tongue into his cheek while you push back from the outside.