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

Most OMDs originate with insufficient habitual nasal breathing or with oral breathing. The subsequent adaptation of the muscles and the orofacial functions to a disordered breathing pattern creates many OMDs. Certain habits or conditions can interfere with proper actions of orofacial muscles causing OMDs. These muscles include cheeks, jaw, lips and tongue.  When these muscles function incorrectly due to habits or conditions, it can lead to improper development. This is a typical development causes the muscles to have incorrect adaptations and not work in balance, which can cause a variety of problems.

Some Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) can be, but are not limited to;

  • Thumb sucking
  • Tongue thrust

  • Nail biting

  • Mouth breathing

  • Cheek or lip biting
  • Clenching or grinding

  • Sleep disordered breathing

  • Extended sippy cup use
  • Prolonged pacifier use

  • Oral structure abnormalities that include a short lingual frenum (tongue tie)

Ankyloglossia and Surgical Release of Restrictive Tethered Oral Tissues (Frenectomy)
Many clients experience myofunctional disorders caused by a tight or restrictive lingual frenum, this occurs when tongue is “tied” or anchored to the floor of the mouth leaving the tongue unable to function or move properly. Without Myofunctional Therapy pre and post TOTs release / frenectomy by a dentist, ENT, or oral surgeon the related Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder cannot be corrected.

Allergies are a very common problem. Clients with chronic nasal congestion should determine the cause of allergies prior to beginning therapy, aiming to reduce congestion and increase nasal airway capacity. Some clients have restricted nasal airway capacities due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, or a deviated septum, these clients will need to be referred to an ENT for evaluation as medical management may be necessary. The most common etiology of OMD is lack of nasal breathing

Dental Problems related to an OMD

An OMD may lead to an abnormal bite – the improper alignment between the upper and lower teeth known as malocclusion. This problem may lead to difficulties in biting, chewing, swallowing, and digesting of food. Tongue thrust is the act of pushing the tongue against or between the teeth when swallowing and speaking. The constant pressure of the tongue against or between the teeth will not allow the teeth to bite together. This is known as an open bite.

Orofacial Myology eliminates many of the causes of  improper rest posture of the tongue.

An Orofacial Myology program is painless and the exercises are relatively simple. When certain muscles of the face are activated and functioning properly, other muscles will follow suit until proper coordination of the tongue and facial muscles is attained.

For success in this program, consistent exercise every day is necessary until the client has corrected their improper muscle pattern. It also takes commitment by the patient, family – and time.

Treatment usually consists of a regular program of exercises over a 3 – 12 month period, although treatment length may vary.

Multi-Disciplinary Approach

A properly trained myofunctional therapist is one member of the team that will successfully treat an OMD. Other allied professionals such as dentists, orthodontists, and osteopaths can ensure that the patient’s needs are addressed and handled appropriately. We feel that the patient needs to be looked at from a variety of approaches in order to be successful in treatment.