Oral Myofunctional Disorders
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
An oral facial myofunctional disorder is a condition of improper habits or patterns in the oral and facial muscles that can affect speech, chewing, swallowing, and other oral functions. This disorder can result in changes to the structure and function of the face, mouth, jaws, and airway and can contribute to speech difficulties, improper swallowing, orthodontic problems and other health issues.
Lips: Poor muscle tone and incorrect control of lips and cheeks increases the over use of these muscles and cause the lower teeth to be crowded and restricts forward jaw growth
Tongue: Tongue resting position determines the shape and size of the upper jaw. When the tongue rests properly in the palate, it guides the growth of the maxilla. If it rests too low, the face and jaws grow long and thin.
Breathing: Mouth breathing can cause the jaw to grow narrow and downward instead of forward. This means there is not enough room for the teeth and the face can become narrow.
Swallow: An incorrect swallow can restrict forward facial growth.
A consultation appointment will help determine the severity of the disorder. We will review the health history, habits, facial growth, occlusion, and swallowing pattern.
Myofunctional therapy is designed to correct the muscle dysfunction of the face, mouth, tongue and throat. The main goals of therapy are to correct swallowing patterns, mouth breathing, lip and tongue posture. Practicing helps rewire the brain to create muscle memory, eventually becoming habit.
Therapy is fun! After a consult to determine which muscles are dysfunctional, we begin with simple exercises that should be practiced 1-2 times per day. Length of treatment will depend on severity of overall dysfunction.
Simple exercises can be done to maintain proper swallowing patterns, mouth breathing, lip and tongue posture. With practice, these will become habit.
Sucking habits, like a thumb or pacifier habit, have a calming and soothing effect for your child and these habits can be hard to break. Retention of this habit can lead to improper oral rest posture, an open bite, protruding front teeth, speech problems, tongue thrust, high palate and a narrow airway. Therapy is aimed to help eliminate the habit working with the child and parent and working to correct the negative oral changes that have occurred.
A tongue thrust is an improper swallowing pattern and is characterized by the tongue pushing forward and out or too far sideways in the mouth when swallowing. A proper swallowing pattern is characterized by the tongue suctioning to the palate and rolling backward. Improper swallow can lead to orthodontic and airway issues.