These days I have had a lot of evaluations where I have had concerns about chewing patterns. A typical chewing pattern is called a “rotary chewing pattern. It is characterized by the person having their lips closed, a stable jaw, and chewing in a circular manner. The way I describe it to my patients is: if I put a pen on your chin while you were chewing, I would be able to draw a circle if you were chewing with a rotary chewing pattern. Most of the time (especially with younger children) we see a “munch-chew” pattern. This is when we see the jaw move up and down vertically. There is NO circular motion with a munch-chew pattern. Most of the time when children or anyone is utilizing a munch-chew pattern, it is because they have difficulty moving the food in the oral cavity to the back molars. In the speech world, we call that “lateralization.” Lateralization is a key step with chewing because it allows food to be ground up by the back molars. Without this step, it is harder for food to be collected in a cohesive bolus and then transported to the posterior portion of the oral cavity for swallowing. Just remember, lots of time children develop an atypical chewing pattern due to oral motor weakness or oral motor planning issues. If you’re feeling concerned about your child’s feeding/chewing/swallowing skills…give us a call!
Hope everyone is enjoying their Friday!