Oral-motor exercises

What are oral-motor exercises?

Oral-motor exercises are used as part of speech and language therapy to help individuals who have difficulty producing speech. Oral-motor exercises additionally help individuals who have difficulty moving the oral-motor muscles (lips, vocal folds, tongue and jaw) which are used for eating and drinking.

Oral-motor exercises can be used to treat both young people and adults who have difficulty using their muscles of speech and swallowing effectively.

Oral-motor exercises are specialised exercises which aim to improve the strength, control and coordination of the oral muscles (tongue, lips, vocal folds and the jaw).

Oral-motor exercises are used in therapy by consistently practising exercises in a drill like manner. Oral-motor exercises can be used for both adults and children.

An initial assessment will help to determine what level of therapy to begin at. In more complex exercises the speech and language therapist will combine oral-motor exercises with breathing exercises and articulation therapy.

Exercises are designed for the individual’s specific needs and abilities and will start at the lowest level and work up to the more complex challenging exercises. Therapy will work in a step by step manner and work towards using oral-motor exercises with speech and breathing. This type of therapy will improve the individual’s speech by increasing their ability to coordinate and sequence oral motor movement, speech and breathing.

The main aim of therapy will be helping the individual to communicate more effectively to their highest potential.

This method of therapy is commonly used and effective in treating adults with dyspraxia.

Oral-motor exercises will also aim to increase oral-motor movements to help support an individual’s eating and drinking. This will help the individual to have more control over the manipulation of their food and drink during the oral-stage of eating and drinking.

What are the benefits of oral-motor exercises?

Oral-motor exercises can benefit adults with conditions such as neurological problems, speech disorders, physical disabilities and dyspraxia.

There are many benefits of oral-motor exercises. The main benefit of oral-motor exercises is improving the movement and coordination of the oral-motor muscles, which in turn will help to improve an individual’s speech when used with speech exercises. Oral-motor therapy also increases an individual’s ability to eat and drink more effectively. Oral- exercises may also increase a patient's confidence and self-esteem when communicating providing functional benefits and emotional benefits.


Oral-motor exercises help to improve and coordinate the oral muscles which are used for speech, eating and drinking. When oral-motor exercises are combined with breathing and speech exercises, this can be a highly beneficial and effective method of improving speech intelligibility. Our speech and language therapists will tailor a specific speech and language therapy programme to suit the specific needs and abilities of each client.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

Related pages

One to one therapy Articulation therapy Augmentative and alternate communication Breathing exercises Compensatory strategies Constraint induced aphasia therapy Lee Silverman voice treatment Oesophaegeal voice training Oral-motor exercises Picture exchange communication system Total communication approach Voice therapy
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