What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD's) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, facial skeletal growth and development, airway functioning, posture, chewing, swallowing, speech, dental occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more.

What is Orofacial Myofunctional Treatment?

Orofacial Myofunctional Treatment is an individualized therapeutic program designed to establish the proper functioning of the tongue and facial muscles used at rest and for swallowing.  Correct resting position of the tongue and correct swallowing depend upon the muscles of the tongue, cheeks, lips and throat to work together in a harmonious pattern.

What is required for success in treatment?

A commitment to consistent, daily exercise is required to obtain success in treatment.  The exercises must be carried out until permanent, subconscious correction of the improper muscle patterns takes place.

Therapy generally lasts between 6 and 12 months, depending upon each individual program.  Appointments with your therapist begin with weekly sessions and taper off to monthly as correct muscle movement patterns improve.

What can I expect?

3 to 9 exercises each week, to be performed several times per day.
These exercises do not cause pain.  Many of them are fun and even a little silly.
A major side effect of the therapy is improved appearance.

What can incorrect resting position of the tongue and incorrect swallowing lead to?

An incorrect resting position of the tongue and incorrect swallowing can lead to the following:

  • Improper growth and development of the orofacial structures
  • inefficient orthodontic treatment/orthodontic relapse
  • dental problems
  • facial esthetics and cosmetic problems (sluggish appearance from weakened facial muscles, parted lips, tongue visible, knobby appearing chin)
  • speech articulation problems
  • TMJ dysfunction
  • headaches
  • stomach distress (from swallowing air)
  • posture problems (forward head posture)
  • airway problems during sleep (snoring, sleep apnea)

What are some common causes of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

  • nail biting
  • prolonged pacifier use
  • sucking on shirt or blanket
  • allergies
  • restricted or tight lingual frenum
  • thumb or finger sucking
  • respiratory or airway obstruction (enlarged tonsils or adenoids)
  • always sleeping on the same side
  • leaning on your hand

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