Oral Dysfunction: Signs and Consequences on Kid's Health

Oral Dysfunction: Signs and Consequences on Kid's Health

Oral Dysfunction

Oral dysfunction is a common issue faced by many Aussie infants every year. Oral dysfunction is the inability (or lack of ability), for free movement of the mouth or tongue for purposes of speaking, eating, and breathing.

For infants, this is a critical issue as the inability to consume nutrients and the development of bad habits to compensate the restricted movement of the mouth and tongue could have major consequences to their health.

The following are signs of dysfunctional issue:
  • Family history of oral restriction
  • Obvious oral restrictions in the lips and tongue
  • Painful latch during breast feeding
  • Baby falling asleep during feeds
  • Incomplete drain of the breast during breast feeding
  • Lip blisters on the baby
  • Heavy spit up or leakage from the mouth during feeds
  • vLow transfer vs pumped volume
  • Damaged nipples after breast feeding
  • Mouth breathing
  • Loud snoring during sleep

It is very important to address oral dysfunction early as over the course of growth, the infant may experience:


  • Cagging/choking during feeds due to restricted airway
  • Speech and language problems
  • Loud open mouth breathing
  • Bad back or body postures
  • Oral fixation on pacifiers and fingers
  • Cavities
  • Overcrowding of teeth which will likely lead to braces in the future
  • Sleep issues (not enough quality sleep)
  • Behavioural issues

The best posture for breathing is tongue up, lips sealed and breathe through the nose. There are also many nerves above the tongue inside the mouth that stimulate relaxation in our body.

If the tongue is notable to move freely stimulating the nerve, the child will compensate by the overuse of pacifiers or fingers. Our tongue also acts as natural toothbrushes and the saliva protects our teeth from germs and bacteria. If the tongue is unable to reach certain areas, those areas may pose a risk for cavities.

If parents suspect a child is orally dysfunctional, it is encouraged to first bring the child to see a Lactation Consultant and see if they can improve on simple posture and techniques to help feeds. Lactation consultants are very knowledgeable in this area and are a great first contact if there is suspicion of tongue tie or other problems with feed.

If the issue persists, parents are encouraged to visit Occupational Therapists or other therapists to gain a second opinion or simply help the infant relax during feeds.

After that, we encourage Parents to visit a professional Dentist or Paediatric Dentist or ENT specialists to hear what can be done physically to the oral dysfunction.

Our appreciation goes out to the highly trained Dental professionals at Smyla Mobile Dental for providing the above information.

For more information or insights on this matter, please email Smyla Australia at [javascript protected email address] or call them on 1300 978 818 and they will be happy to help you.