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Myofunctional Disorders

What are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)? 
OMDs impact the function of the facial muscles. With OMDs, the tongue moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech and/or swallowing. The tongue may lie too far forward during rest or may protrude between the upper and lower teeth during speech and/or swallowing, and/or at rest.  

What are the signs or symptoms of OMDs?
 Although a "tongue thrust" swallow is normal in infancy, it usually decreases and disappears as a child grows. If the tongue thrust continues, a child may look, speak, and swallow differently than other children of the same age. As a result, older children may become self- conscious about their appearance. 

Common Symptoms of OMDs include:

  • Thumb/finger sucking, nail biting or other harmful oral habits   

  • A routine habit of resting with the lips apart

  •  A forward resting posture of the tongue between or against the teeth

  • Tongue Thrust   

  • Congestion/mouth breathing

  • Open mouth posture at rest

  • Allergies

  • Low tone

  • Dental crowding/crossbite/open bite

  • High and narrow palate

  • Tongue-tie

  • Drooling

  • Dark circles under the eyes

  • Thumb or object sucking

  • Nail biting

  • Bedwetting

  • Open mouth chewing/sloppy eating

Prevalence of OMDs among our population is high! 

  • Tongue thrusting (protrusion of the tongue between the teeth) during swallowing is estimated to range between 33% and 50.5% of the general population of school-aged children (Fletcher, Casteel, & Bradley, 1961; Gross et al., 1990; Hale, Kellum, Nason, & Johnson, 1988; Hanson & Cohen, 1973; Wadsworth, Maul, & Stevens, 1998).

  • Children with articulation disorders are more likely to exhibit a tongue thrust swallow (55.3%; Wadsworth, et al., 1998).

  • Hanson & Mason (2003) pointed out children with malocclusion who also have speech issues (e.g., lisps) most likely have a tongue thrust or OMD.

  • Approximately 31% of children diagnosed with chronic mouth breathing (a common symptom of OMD) exhibit an articulation disorder (Hitos, Arakaki, Sole, & Weckx, 2013).

  • Higher estimates are reported for individuals receiving orthodontic treatment (62% to 73.3%) or with dental malocclusions (Hale, Kellum, & Bishop, 1988; Stahl, Grabowski, Gaebel, & Kundt, 2007).                     

  • In individuals with a temporomandibular disorder (TMD), the percentage of those with orofacial myofunctional variables is estimated to be 97.92% (Ferreira, Da Silva, & de Felicio, 2009). 

  • Although prevalence is high, not many professionals are aware of OMDs. If you suspect you or your child might have an OMD it is best to contact a qualified professional with an in depth evaluation. Doing your research beforehand can help avoid inaccurate information and frustration. If you have any other questions, concerns, or want to schedule a consultation, please feel free to reach out!

How effective is the therapy?

According to International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM)
“There are many factors that contribute to the success of the therapy program. Effective communication and cooperation between therapist and the dental and medical community is essential. In addition, the patient’s desire, dedicated cooperation and self-discipline are necessary, as well as support from others. To ensure optimum results with children undergoing therapy, parental involvement and encouragement is important and necessary.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy has helped thousands of individuals in dozens of countries. Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in the treatment of orofacial myofunctional disorders. These studies have shown that orofacial myofunctional therapy can be 80-90% effective in correcting rest posture, swallowing and other oral functions, and that these corrections are retained years after completing therapy.”


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