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What are the symptoms of a myofunctional disorder?

Symptoms of myofunctional disorders vary and may create imbalances in a variety of areas resulting in a decrease in overall well being.  These disorders may also change over time.  The infant who had difficulty nursing to the adult with sleep apnea.  The child with a frontal or lateral lisp to the adolescent in need of orthodontics. 

Symptoms of a myofunctional disorder may include the following:

Speech sound distortions most commonly  /s/, /z/, /r/, /l/, /ch/, /sh/

Lack of speech development or highly unintelligible speech production

Disorganized feeding, picky eating habits, or seems to take long to finish a meal or needs “coaching” during the meal.

Painful or inefficient breast feeding

Tethered oral tissues in the form of tongue ties, lip ties and other oral tissue restrictions.

Mouth breathing, drooling, open mouth posture, chapped lips, enlarged tonsils and adenoids

Tongue Thrust, inefficient feeding and swallowing, difficulty with breast feeding, a reverse swallow. Acid reflux or belching due to swallowing of excess air in an effort to move solids or liquids in the oral cavity.

Tightness throughout the larynx or throat area. Neck back, shoulder pain, and TMJ pain. 

Sleep disorders including sleep apnea, obstructive or restrictive airways, snoring and overall poor sleep quality. Some adults report feelings of anxiety due to lack of sleep or adequate breath support. In children this may give the appearance of behavioral or attention issues, and academic struggles.

The need for orthodontics, misaligned or crooked teeth, grinding or bruxism, high arched or narrow palates, malocclusions, noxious oral habits such as thumb sucking, chewing or mouthing on objects beyond developmental norms, an inability or difficulty with establishing breathing through the nose, “long face” syndrome or adenoid face.

While the treatment and management of myofunctional disorders requires a multi-team approach,for infants and breastfeeding moms, the point of contact and assessment is often an SLP trained in pediatric feeding and swallowing or an IBCLC/Lactation Specialist with expertise in tethered oral tissues.  For children who have transitioned from breastfeeding, a thorough functional assessment performed by a qualified SLP/COM (Certified Orofacial Myologist) provides for a baseline on the functions of speech, feeding, airway and myofunctional structures.  Assessing the global impact of the myofunctional disorder on these other domains often provides a road map regarding direction toward a plan of care to improve function.


Through a coordination of care the information obtain from your assessment helps inform a decision making process and care plan that may include subsequent referrals to: Sleep Specialists, ENTS, Dental Professionals, Osteopatic Physicians, Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Lactation Consultants.

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