A quick way to manage oral sensory problems

In our body, sometimes our brain struggles to appropriately interpret and process information that comes from the body’s senses. Oral sensory problems are the main thing.

The oral motor sensory system plays an important role in children’s life. It allows us to communicate with others, chew things, swallowing procedures, and experience different textures and tastes.

Also, this oral system is closely associated with the proprioceptive system.

Most of the time children are having sensory processing disorder or autism spectrum disorder, show various types of oral sensory problems.

They are mainly two types

  • Oral sensory-seeking behaviors (Always chewing and biting things)
  • Oral sensory avoiding behaviors (Avoiding certain food textures, swallowing problems, reluctant to try new foods )

Oral sensory seeking behaviors(under sensitivity behaviors)

These children are under-sensitive to oral stimulants. Most of the time they are showing oral seeking behavior when they are anxious. These children may have strong emotional reactions.

Following oral under-sensitivity behaviors or oral seeking behaviors can be most frequently seen among children.

  • Chewing and sucking things like pencils, fingers, hair, clothing, etc.( Frequently mouths non-food items )
  • Problems in chewing food items
  • Problems in drinking with straws
  • Eating fingernails
  • Produce a hum frequently
  • Produce clicking sounds by using tongue
  • Bites self or others
  • Grinds teeth
  • Bites lips or cheeks
  • Make an irritating voice by using a mouth
  • verbal stims
  • Enjoy crunchy chewy foods

Oral sensory avoiding behaviors ( over-sensitivity behaviors)

  • Refuse certain food items
  • Occurs some swallowing problems
  • Reluctant to try new foods
  • Avoid doing anything with the mouth
  • Always refuse toothbrushes
  • Very upset when eating foods with utensils
  • Mostly Rickey eaters
  • Taking a limited diet every day
  • Avoid mushy or crunchy foods
  • Avoid foods with more than one texture
  • Drools a lot
  • May have strong emotional reactions
  • Avoid trying new foods
  • Say no toothbrush every time

Most children have very limited oral mouth functions. Commonly those children show oral motor red flags as follows.

  • Food falling while trying to eat
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Mashes foods with tongue
  • Sucks foods instead of chewing
  • Hold food in mouth for some time (pocketing foods)
  • Mouth often in the open position
  • The tongue hangs out of the mouth
  • The difficulty of sticking the tongue out
  • Never chews teethers as a baby
  • Gagging foods after it been in the mouth as a toddler or baby
  • Never chews toys as a baby
  • Difficult to learn to eat table foods
  • Can’t take foods and put them into the mouth as a toddler or baby
  • Preference for certain textures of foods (crunchy or soft )
  • The difficulty of drinking from a straw (If over 24 months )
  • Drooling
  • Picky eater

Various oral mouth exercises for toddlers

  • These mouth exercises are designed for a different part of the oral system. Tongue, cheeks, Jaw, and lips. Etc.
  • A vibrating toothbrush or a normal tooth Burch (stimulates the tongue movements)
  • Licking Popsicle or lollipops outside the mouth.
  • Select yogurt, pudding, and apple sauce-like food items, and put them on the corners of the mouth. Then show the child how he struggles to take the foods from the tongue.
  • Click or chunk the tongue
  • Sing “la, la, la” songs
  • Try to touch the tongue to the tip of the nose.
  • Count teeth with tongue.

Various lip exercises

  • Blow air kisses
  • Drinking with straw
  • Give thicker liquids like apple sauce and milkshakes etc.
  • Make silly faces
  • Make “O” shapes with lips
  • Spread lips apart
  • Kiss lips
  • Blow bubbles
  • HummingPick a nursery rhyme and hum it together
  • Play the harmonica
  • Blow whistles
  • Jaw exercises
  • Give baby teethers
  • Handle the massager to one side of the jaw and then to the other side. stimulate the jaw muscles.
  • Vibrate the muscles in short bursts of 3-5 seconds
  • Ideas for oral sensory seekers
  • Chew gum
  • Drink from the water bottle
  • use a chewy tube
  • Eat crunchy snacks
  • Eat sour foods
  • Eat chewy foods
  • Drink thick liquids
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Blow a cotton ball on a desk
  • Try only one oral input at a time.


  • Self-regulation
  • Attention
  • Behavior
  • Emotional state .some times.

Ideas for oral sensory avoiding behaviors

  • Blow bubbles and play with whistles
  • Give tooth Burch with multiple sides
  • Give a water bottle with a bite valve
  • Give soft, blended snacks
  • Give taste a small number of spicy foods
  • Introduce new foods with a sticker chart and pictures


It is very much important to address the oral motor sensory issues of the children and finds out the sensory problems, Clear assessment and understanding are very much important for treatment.

Most of the children became Rickey eaters because of these sensory issues of the children. In those situations, they can not express their needs verbally.

So we as parents and caregivers need to understand the issue and need to give relevant treatment options.

5 thoughts on “A quick way to manage oral sensory problems”

  1. Hello, Great post that I just read, I have to ask, I know this is a kids post but do you think the exercises would help adults? I would try this but I am not sure if I could do it. 

    This site was bookmarked, by the way, it’s so good that I will come back to re-read it for the great info on this site. Thank you for writing this post. 

    Have a great day. 


    • thsn k you very much for keeping in touch with me. Yes, some times we feel like we need some sensory inputs like tactile, auditory and gustatory, etc. that’s why sometimes we listen to sons, munch some  thing, use air fresheners for a sweet smell, etc.

      thank you very much for sharing your valuable ideas with us

  2. Hello Chinthaka, 

    I read carefully your article, my daughter will be three years old soon, and reading this list of oral month sensory help me to understand better and to identify if there is any indication about the problems that you mention here. She likes time after time to bite her toys and I offer her fresh food like carrot, cucumber, or an apple all this time. Fortunately, my daughter likes this food and until now I didn’t notice anything else. Should I preoccupied about the fact that she put in her mouth her toys?

    Thank you for the helpful information.



    • thank you very much for the nice comment. there may be a lot of sensory problems affected these types of oral problems. we have sensory inputs from six sensory organs, your kid might having that. Actually, this is not an illness or something to worry about. this is a sensory requirement that the child is seeking. some times these sensory imbalances, the child can not full fill on her own. there we need to give additional support. contact me for guidance and advice. we are here to help you.

      thank you for the wonderful comment,


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