What are Myofunctional Disorders Treated Through Myofunctional Therapy?
Disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth are known as orofacial myofunctional disorders or OMDs. The tongue’s position when swallowing can create many health issues later in life that can even impact the way your child looks and speaks.
On the other hand, OMDs directly or indirectly affect many other functions, such as chewing, facial skeletal growth, temporomandibular joint movement, occlusion, facial aesthetics, breastfeeding, and oral hygiene. All of these abnormalities could be corrected with myofunctional therapy.
While a pacifier may let you get a bit more sleep or the chance to go to the bathroom alone when your child is still new to the world, sucking on a pacifier is one of the most common causes for myofunctional abnormalities.
Prolonged use of a bottle, thumb/finger sucking and mouth breathing are other common occurrences that lead to the need for myofunctional therapy.
Myofunctional therapy helps improve breathing, bite and orofacial posture. Often, problems with articulation and dental misalignmentare caused by abnormal pressure of the tongue against the teeth during swallowing.These issues are typically visible and therapy services are required to correct them. Therapy may consist of exercises and strengthening to help to correct issues stemming from abnormal lip, jaw or tongue position during rest, eating or speech.
Symptoms Of OMDs
The most common signs and symptoms of orofacial myofunctional disorders include:
- Improper swallowing
- Sluggish facial appearance
- Improper lip seal
- Difficulty in articulating sounds
- Forward head posture
- Retruded chin
- Difficulty in breathing through the nose
- Limited tongue movements
Does your child need an assessment?
We have noticed that myofunctional therapy is commonly not sought after until after the poor habits or structural issues begin to impact speech, sleeping and other areas of a child’s life. To learn more about myofunctional therapy and in what ways it may help your child, check out the resources below.
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Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
This form of therapy involves specific exercises for the mouth and facial muscles to correct an abnormal swallow, referred to as “tongue thrust.” The process is usually customized for the child based on his or her age.
The program will help the affected individual retrain the adaptive patterns of muscle function to create and maintain a healthy orofacial environment. The therapy goals include establishing sound nasal breathing patterns, normalizing the tongue and lip resting postures, and eliminating improper swallowing and chewing habits.
Orofacial therapy is painless and involves a program of simple exercises that can span over six months, but the length of treatment will vary depending on the individual. Many factors contribute to the success of the program.
- Effective communication between the patient and therapist is important.
- The patient’s desire to heal, commitment, and self-discipline are also essential factors.
- The support from family members is also vital to ensure optimal results from the treatment.
Orofacial therapy has already helped thousands of patients in various countries across the globe. Many studies show the effectiveness of orofacial therapy in treating orofacial myofunctional disorders. The program is 80-90% effective in correcting swallowing, rest posture, and other oral functions. The best thing about the myofunctional therapy program is the corrections are retained years after completing therapy.
Orofacial therapy is performed by a professional who has undergone extensive training in this specialty and may also have a background in speech pathology. Dental practitioners are also trained to recognize and treat patients who exhibit myofunctional disorder symptoms.
These therapists are trained to apply self-awareness and behavioral modification techniques to eliminate the signs and symptoms of OMD. The right therapist will help optimize oral functions in both children and adults. Myofunctional treatment can also help in curing sleep apnea in children and adults.