In the United States, around 7.5 million people have difficulty using their voice. The issues seem to disproportionately affect children as well. Nearly one in twelve children struggle with a speech disorder.
The growing diagnosis rate of speech disorders in recent years has increased awareness of the issue. When we know exactly what causes speech problems, then we can begin specific therapy techniques for reducing the disorder.
We can thank these diagnosis rates for things like an oral mechanism exam. These types of exams help identify structural or functional issues in the mouth or skull that may be causing the speaking problems.
If you or your child need to take an oral mechanism exam, then you shouldn’t be nervous — the procedure is completely painless. Here’s what you can expect.
What Is an Oral Mechanism Exam?
An oral mechanism exam is a medical procedure that medical professionals use to assess the condition of an individual’s tongue, jaw, throat, top of mouth, teeth, and tonsils.
Typically the exam is used to test the mechanism of speech and how they relate to sound production.
Dentists, speech therapists, and otolaryngologists all use these types of mechanical tests to inspect both the structure and function of someone’s mouth. The procedure may be part of a larger head or neck examination.
The exam can reveal both major and subtle health conditions.
For example, a doctor may identify a large cleft palate or tiny abnormalities in bone structure. These types of exams help identify types of speech disorders. Anyone can have a disorder and they’re caused by a variety of factors.
Why Is an Oral Mechanism Exam Important for Speech Disorders?
If a medical professional knows what they’re looking for, then an oral mechanism exam can reveal a lot of the problems that affect speech.
For example, an OME may reveal motor abilities that help reveal apraxia of speech diagnosis. Similarly, hypernasality may occur when a cleft palate is enlarged.
If you don’t know what the problem is, then a speech therapist can spend years trying to fix the wrong problem with no success. A proper diagnosis of the problem gives you a definitive idea of what you need to work on.
If you suspect your child has a speech disorder, then it’s important to take them to get an oral mechanism exam.
A speech disorder can make it harder for your child to learn and socialize. If you can address the problem at a young age, then it will be much easier to correct the problem.
If you suspect that your child has a speech disorder, then you can learn more about diagnosing my following this link here.
What Can You Expect From the Exam?
The oral mechanism exam is a noninvasive procedure that causes very little discomfort. It should only take fifteen to twenty minutes to complete. As such, it’s regularly performed on children without a problem.
Generally, the exam is broken down into six parts. If you want an example of the oral mechanism exam form, then you can click this link here.
The doctor will inspect your face for signs of droopiness. They will also search for any abnormal movements and check your breathing.
Jaw and Teeth Evaluation
During this section, the doctor will ask you to open and close your mouth. They will look at your overall range of motion and search for any concerning deviations. They will also lookout for any strange noises like grinding or popping.
For the teeth, they will search for any jumbles or misaligned sections. They will note things like overbites, underbites and missing teeth. They will also inspect the general hygiene of the teeth.
While evaluating the lips, most doctors will tell you to pucker, smile and puff up your cheeks with air.
During this time they will check for strength, symmetry and a full range of motion. When you puff up your cheeks the doctor will also check for nasal emission.
Most of the test is spent evaluating the tongue since it’s an important part of speech. During the tongue portion of the evaluation, you will need to stick your tongue in and out of your mouth and move it left to right.
When inspecting the tongue the medical professional will first check for a normal color. When you stick it out the doctor will look for any unnatural movement like jerking, twitching or writhing.
The doctor will also test your tongue strength by measuring your opposing pressure to a tongue stick.
The pharynx part of the examination is relatively quick. The doctor will check the color of your pharynx and note the status of your tonsils: absent, enlarged or normal.
Soft and Hard Palate Evaluation
During this part of the evaluation, the doctor will evaluate and measure your soft and hard palate.
They will also observe them will you pronounce vowel sounds. They will look for normal color, structure, and symmetry. They will also observe your nasality, uvula, clefting and gag reflex.
If You Suffer From a Speech Disorder, Then Online Speech Therapy Can Help
An oral mechanism exam can help you discover the root cause of a speech disorder. But what do you do once you discover your speech disorder? One solution is online speech therapy.
At Great Speak Inc. we connect users with top speech therapists through video conferences. While we cater to many of our services toward children, we can also help adults with articulation and other issues.
Here are some of the specializations you can explore:
- Articulation Program
- Executive Function Training
- Stuttering Intervention
- The Language of Math
- Literacy & Reading Fluency
- Reading Comprehension Mastery
- Pragmatics & Social Skills Groups
- Self Regulation
All you need for online speech therapy is a laptop or computer with an external webcam and a quiet environment. Headphones are recommended, but you don’t need them.
If any of these programs sound like a good fit for you, then you can schedule a free consultation by visiting this link here.