What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Updated: Aug 1
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, facial skeletal growth and development, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, the stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more. Stages and frequency of care vary from individual to individual. From proactive and preventative care to pain relief and functional restoration. We’ll find the right treatment, tailored to suit you.
So why would Myofunctional Therapy matter to an adult or teen?
Well, if you grew up with your mouth open, you will have grown up to be an adult who is more likely to have sleep apnea and to snore. You’re also more likely to have chronic jaw pain and headaches, and the chances are higher that you’ll have dental issues, postural problems, and other health conditions.
Many of my clients who are young people in their late teens or early twenties are starting to notice the effects of a mouth-breathing habit when they were children. They sometimes want to know what will happen if they don’t do the therapy, or even if they just ignore it and don’t do anything at all.
The reality is that these problems accumulate over time. The symptoms are subtle, and it’s possible to not even know that they’re there. People don’t just wake up one day and find they suddenly have sleep apnea. That situation has been slowly getting worse over the years and decades.
But eventually, the symptoms get bad enough that they lead to bigger problems and develop into serious health concerns. At this point, these people start trying to find the root cause of their problems, and they realize that it all comes down to the fact that they’ve been breathing through their mouths for their entire life.
If they’d known about and been able to address the mouth breathing and the associated oral issues, they would not be in such a tough situation. I see this daily with the patients in my practice.
Why would my child need Myofunctional Therapy?
As a child grows, their tongue must sit on the palate at rest; not on the floor of the mouth and not on the teeth. Their lips should be together. As the swallow continues to mature, the presence of the tongue on the palate advances the growth of the mid-face while also continuing to flatten and broaden the palate, creating arch length for the future erupting teeth and healthy nasal airways.
Sleep-related breathing disorders are no longer recognized as strictly an adult disease – they can be seen in children as early as infancy. Developing early chewing in babies as young as 6 months – lips together, the proper function of the tongue during swallowing, and nasal breathing – is key to developing a well-structured face and airway. Myofunctional therapy is the one profession that can help recognize and train those good habits. It is one of the leading therapies that may protect you and your child against sleep apnea.
Growing children who learned to swallow from a bottle generally have a weaker swallow when compared to a child who was breastfed. The bottle, as well as pacifiers and sippy cups, neurologically trains the tongue to remain low.
Consequently, their facial structure may not be as well developed. Myofunctional therapy encourages good facial growth promoted by good habits. If poor habits have resulted in craniofacial dystrophy (poor structure related to growth), orthodontic expanders along with Myofunctional Therapy are great ways to open the palate for better breathing and improved tongue resting posture.
Other improvements are related to speech. Our Myofunctional Therapists are also speech pathologists specializing in treating frontal and lateral lisps (many children are in speech therapy forever for this sound) and vowelized /r/ sounds.
What are the Results of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy & Is it too late to do Myofunctional Therapy?
With Myofunctional Therapy, a patient can regain the joy of eating, speaking, breathing, and even sleeping more soundly. Cosmetic improvements can help restore confidence and self-esteem. We believe that everyone deserves to be educated about Myofunctional disorders and treated if they suffer from OMDs.
Our bodies aren’t static and are not solid beings made of concrete or steel. Our bone cells and structures are constantly regenerating and remodeling, which is a very good thing. However, that change can be good for you, or it can be bad for you.
Your craniofacial structure is going to be changing for the better if you’re breathing through your nose, your tongue is on the roof of your mouth, and your lips are together during the day and night. Your bone will be shaping and remodeling in a positive direction.
But if you have your mouth open during the day or night, with your tongue resting in the bottom of your mouth, perhaps because you have a tongue thrust or a tongue-tie, you’re going to be progressively getting worse.
So, the moral of the story is that if you don't take out time for your wellness, you will be forced to take out the time for your illness.
TASL Speech Therapy Consultants offer Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy care for Teens & Adults in the Houston community. From issues with misaligned teeth, tongue-ties, tongue thrust, swallowing disorder, TMJ, Jaw dysfunction, and speech issues.
Stages and frequency of care vary from individual to individual. From proactive and preventative care to pain relief and functional restoration. We’ll find the right treatment, tailored to suit you.
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