American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Resources

The investigation, assessment, and treatment of oral myofunctional disorders are within the purview of speech-language pathology practice. Oral myofunctional phenomena, including abnormal fronting (tongue thrust) of the tongue at rest and during swallowing, lip incompetency, and sucking habits, can be identified reliably. These conditions co-occur with speech misarticulations in some patients. Tongue fronting may reflect learned behaviors, physical variables, or both. 

The speech-language pathologist (SLP) who desires to perform oral myofunctional services must have the required knowledge and skills to provide a high quality of treatment. The provision of oral myofunctional treatment remains an option of individual SLPs whose interests and training qualify them.

Evaluation and treatment should be:

  • interdisciplinary and tailored to the individual;
  • in collaboration with other professionals, including an orthodontist, pediatric dentist, or other dentist;
  • in collaboration with other medical professionals, including an otolaryngologist, pediatrician, or allergist as needed.

Goals for treatment should include retraining labial and lingual resting and functional patterns (including speech). Clinicians should avoid predictions of treatment outcomes based on tooth position or dental occlusal changes.

Research exists indicating that oral myofunctional treatment is effective in modifying disorders of tongue and lip posture and movement. However, more basic and applied research is needed regarding the nature and evaluation and treatment of oral myofunctional disorders.

Acknowledgement

The information about orofacial myology on ASHA's website is drawn primarily from ASHA committees that developed resources on orofacial myofunctional disorders. Members of those committees included Robert M. Mason, Sheila Gideon, Richard Forcucci, Catherine Jackson, Sylvia M. Zante, Charlene E. Clark, Marvin L. Hanson, Ralph Shelton, Jr., Ida Wiedal, Galen L. Peachey, Gayle P. Snyder, James L. Case, Gloria D. Kellum, Joseph B. Zimmermen, and Michelle Ferketic, ex officio.

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