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  • Writer's pictureCAFF Team


Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) in children may interfere with normal growth and development of the muscles and bones of the face and mouth. These disorders often interfere with how the developing facial and mouth muscles are used for eating, talking, and breathing.


Numerous factors may contribute to OMDs, such as blocked nasal passages caused by large tonsils or allergies. A blocked nasal passage may cause people to breathe through their mouths instead. The tongue might be misplaced at rest or it might be hard to keep the lips together at rest because of something.

When the tongue prevents a child from closing their mouth, the child is forced to breathe through their mouth. Chronic mouth-breathing in children may cause problems such as an elongated face, stunted growth and development, behavioral issues, inadequate sleep, and misalignment or crowding of the teeth.

When your child can’t breathe properly, their brain can’t function properly causing:

  • Difficulties with concentration and problem solving

  • Development of sleep disorders like insomnia

  • Disrupted emotional and social development

  • Misdiagnosis of issues like ADD and ADHD

  • Slower cognitive development

  • Poor performance at school


One of the first steps to creating a holistic approach to your child's overall health is education. While pediatric professionals understand the fundamentals around Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, parents often do not.

To help parents with an initial understanding, we've pulled together a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of OMDs in children between the ages of 0 to 5:

  • Poor latching during breast or bottle feeding (difficulty nursing)

  • Difficulties with the suck-swallow-breathe coordination

  • Tongue protrusion reaching past the lower lip when at rest or during feeding

  • Infant having difficulty transitioning to solids and picking eating as toddlers

  • Late emergence of speech sounds or speech/language delays

  • Labored or difficult breathing

  • Mouth breathing during the day and/or night

  • Restless sleep (including waking up at night, talking in sleep, snoring/interrupted snoring, bedwetting, or excessive sweating while sleeping)

  • Feels sleepy, tired, and/or irritable all-day

  • A gummy smile, crossbite, or grinding teeth

  • Swollen Tonsils and/or adenoids

  • Frequent throat infections and irritations

According to Kevin Boyd, DDS MSC Pediatric Dentist, "Early signs of deficient growth of craniofacial-mandibular complex structures, can often be observed in utero on mid-gestational pre-natal ultrasound images."

This further supports the concept of why it is important that interdisciplinary teams (including obstetrics, pediatrics, speech pathologists, nutritionists, and pediatric dentistry) should work together to form a more holistic and comprehensive approach to children's health and development.


Pediatric airway disorders can start as early as birth. There are many signs that both parents and medical professionals miss simply because they are unaware of the signs and symptoms. The Children's Airway First Foundation Resource Library has recommended reading, videos, podcasts, blogs, and so much more to help provide foundational education for both parents and medical professionals.

As with any medical condition, consult your child's pediatrician should you see any of these symptoms in your child or if you suspect your child is suffering from an airway disorder.

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