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Number 4

Good Oral Habits for Speech Production

by By: Robyn Merkel-Piccini MA, CCC-SLP

A habit is "an acquired behavior that occurs involuntarily." Sometimes the word "habit" has a negative connotation, as it is something we feel we do without self control. Smoking, looking both ways when crossing the street, nail biting and neatness can all be habits. Obviously some habits, like smoking, can cause damage while other habits, like eating fruit every day, are very beneficial. Oral habits include behaviors involving the oral cavity (tongue, lips, palate, teeth, gums.) Oral habits include: · brushing teeth · smoking · digit and thumb sucking · mouthing objects · tongue popping/clicking · tongue thrusting · straw and cup drinking · nail biting

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· gum chewing · sucking on a pacifier · biting the inside of the mouth · drooling · flossing · mouth breathing · suckling

Some of these habits are a normal part of oral development. For example, all children tongue thrust until approximately 3-4 years old. Most children will also take a pacifier at some time. Problems occur when these habits do not resolve by the school-aged years. For example, there is a link between tongue thrusting, mouth breathing, drooling, and thumb sucking behaviors and the presence of articulation disorders. As a classroom teacher, or parent, it's important to be aware that children who are receiving speech therapy for articulation and/or oral motor therapy may have certain habits that are impeding their progress in therapy. You should alert the speech therapist if you see a speech student doing any of the following: · drooling · constant oral stimulation with inappropriate objects (ex. pencil) · mouth breathing · frequently positioning tongue where it is visible

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