What is Oral Motor Sensitivity ?

- By Somaiyya Jawaid Posted On - 22/05/2021

Oral Motor skills entail the functioning of the lips, cheeks, jaw, and tongue, which all take part in a large role when it comes to a child's development and are very vital in speech and feeding processes.
Issues in the development of these oral functions can result in malnutrition and interference in the social and physical development of the child.


It tells about how the mouth muscles function: how powerful the muscles are, how perfect in coordination in the range of motion and how far they can stir as they manipulate food in the mouth.

The oral-sensory aspect of eating includes how the tissues of the mouth perceive sensory information such as the temperature, texture, and taste of food.
Individuals have issues with either part of the eating process or both; there is frequent overlap with feeding disorders.

Some children with oral-sensory will face issues in feeding, aversion to how foods feel or taste but will have no issues putting other things in their mouths.
Thus children with general oral aversions might gag or vomit in response to anything in their mouths.

Oral Defensiveness

It is an aversive response to touch sensations in and around the mouth that may cause extreme sensory, emotional and behavioural responses when eating


The motor development process, which involves at the level of gross motor function, the stabilization of the head and trunk in sitting position with or without help and the initiation of actions with hand-eye coordination.

The oral level process begins with relating to articulation, normalization of the response of the vagus nerve, and the development of various planes of tongue movements. In these two planes, the connection is established from the refinement of movements and the distal-proximal relationship which provides the patterns of stabilization and sensitivity such that it will favor the development of fine movements like those performed by the speech organs. Thus this relationship also brings together the other orofacial postures, that involves the surrounding hard and soft tissues.


On the other hand, individuals with hypersensitivities are overly sensitive to oral stimulation. Even the slightest touch might be uncomfortable and even painful, which can lead to texture/food aversions, picky eating, and speech and feeding delays.


Individuals with hyposensitivities have low oral tone and very little awareness of what's going on inside their mouths. This "oral numbness" so to speak can cause significant speech and feeding delays. For example, the ability to create a food bolus is a critical oral motor skill necessary for swallowing It is important to increase oral awareness by providing varied oral input and sensation throughout the oral cavity. It is at this point, however, that hyposensitive individuals can become orally defensive. Because they are not used to new feelings and sensations inside their mouths, they may be afraid/unsure of the sensations and therefore refuse intervention.