What is the Significance of the Mouth, Oral-Motor Development, And Oral Supports?

Gum-Bubble    Purple-Lips    Blowing-Bubbles


  • Oral-motor development is impacted by many inter-related factors including sensory over responsivity, sensory under responsivity, immature suck-swallow-breathe synchrony, and low oral-motor muscle tone.
  • Oral hypersensitivity can be manifested in a hyperactive gag reflex, difficulty tolerating oral sensations, and being a picky/problem eater.
  • Oral hyposensitivity can be manifested in difficulty with lip closure, overstuffing food, decreased speech articulation, and drooling.
  • Oral-motor development occurs through experiences and activities involving suck, blow, bite, crunch, chew, lick, as well as taste, temperature, texture, size and form, all of which supports control of motor, oral, respiratory, and eyes. It is the changes and combination of activities that promote integration and functional oral-motor skills needed for speech production, postural control, eye-hand coordination, binocular vision, deep respiration, and self-regulation.
  • Respiration and slow deep breathing helps children (and adults) feel relaxed and calm. Deep abdominal breathing, rather than shallow (chest) breathing reduces tension, influences posture, focuses attention, supports speech production and supports digestion. Inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling fully out through the nose is best practice. The longer the exhalation the better the inhalation and the more supportive breathing is. Laughing and crying changes respiration to bring it into balance. Beneficial home activities include blow toys, bubble activities, whistles, straw drinking, and deep abdominal breathing. Balloon blowing is an excellent activity to deepen the breath!
  • The temporo-mandibular joint is one of the strongest in the body. If a child’s body needs to move, and if their biological body is calling out for some heavy work and resistance and they can not get it, they will chew.
  • If your child is an intense chewer, he/she is communicating their need for organizing sensory input to get into the zone for learning and interacting.
  • Chewing helps release pent-up body energy, which is necessary to feel just right calm, grounded, and in the zone to learn. A more effective approach to meet the chewing need is to provide intense whole body movement.
  • Many common strategies used to regulate state of arousal and overall regulation, involves the mouth. This is obvious in the infant who sucks the bottle or breast to self-regulate; the toddler who sucks his thumb or pacifier to self-regulate; the children who chew their shirts or hair to self-regulate, and adults who bite their nails, over eat, smoke, or chew gum to self-regulate.
  • Oral-motor sensory supports include sucking through crazy straws, sucking on water bottles, blowing bubbles, chewing gum, chewing on chewelry, crunching on nuts/raw vegetables, using electric toothbrush, blowing various whistles, blowing up balloons, and humming on kazoo.