Orofacial myofunctional (muscle function) therapy is a re-patterning of the improper function of the facial and oral muscles. The goal of therapy is to achieve correct tongue position, improved breathing, speaking, chewing and swallowing through a regimen of facial and tongue exercises. Myofunctional therapy can take anywhere from 6-12 months; however, this can vary depending on the individual.
What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?
Orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) refers to the improper function of the muscles of the face, tongue and mouth. OMDs can affect growth and facial and dental development, speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing. Additionally, OMDs can impede the treatment of orthodontists, dentists and speech pathologists. Tongue ties, thumb or finger sucking and pacifier use can also result in OMDs.
Problems Resulting from an OMD
Myofunctional therapy is effective for children, teens and adults. The following are problems related to OMDs that can be improved and/or eliminated with myofunctional therapy.
struggling with oral habits – e.g. thumb sucking, fingernail biting, pacifier use
speech disorders – Sounds often impacted by an OMD are /s/, /z/, /sh/, /ch/, /j/, /t/, /d/, /n/, /l/ and /r/.
cosmetic problems – A person with an OMD can have a sluggish appearance. Facial grimaces and a knobby looking chin may result from tight muscles of the cheeks, lips and chin. An open mouth posture and tongue thrust can also contribute to facial esthetics being undesirable.
dental problems – A tongue thrust, thumb sucking or pacifier use, and/or an incorrect resting posture can all contribute to a malocclusion (misalignment of the teeth) and/or an open bite (an “open” space between the upper and lower teeth). This can lead to difficulties with biting, chewing, swallowing, digesting food and speaking.
In order to ensure the most effective and successful treatment, we begin with an evaluation to determine the best treatment plan for each individual patient. We do not take an “one-size-fits-all” approach. Additionally, we work closely with a team of professionals that may include orthodontists, ENTs, dentists and oral surgeons to make sure that our patients’ needs are addressed and treated properly.