What are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD's)?
Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) are patterns involving oral and orofacial musculature that interfere with normal growth, development, or function of orofacial structures, or call attention to themselves (Mason, n.d.A). OMDs can be found in children, adolescents, and adults. OMDs can co-occur with a variety of speech and swallowing disorders. OMD may reflect the interplay of learned behaviors, physical/structural variables, genetic and environmental factors (Maspero, Prevedello, Giannini, Galbiati, & Farronato, 2014). OMD’s are treated by an interdisciplinary team including Primary Care Physicians, Dentists, ENT’s, Orthodontists, Chiropractors, and Speech-Language Pathologists for Myofunctional therapy.
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
Orofacial myofunctional therapy aims to re-pattern and optimize oral and facial functions. It is neurologic re-education. Treatment includes but is not limited to:
Eliminating oral habits (finger sucking, mouthing, pacifier sucking)
Teaching nasal breathing
Optimizing chewing and swallowing patterns
Teaching positive oral habits and rest postures
Correct speech sound errors
Teaching your child to eat, drink, and breathe correctly makes their bodies more efficient and able to grow and develop optimally. While the body has an amazing way of compensating, compensations can limit your child’s ability to get adequate rest and development they need to thrive. We are trained to assess and treat your child holistically, and evaluate their functional areas for improvement.
Causes of OMDs
No single cause of orofacial myofunctional disorders has been identified. Causes seem to be multifactorial. Anything that causes the tongue to be misplaced at rest limits lingual excursions within the oral cavity, makes it difficult to achieve acceptable lip closure, and reduces or impedes the ability to obtain and maintain correct oral rest posture, which can lead to an OMD. That said, common causes include:
●Airway obstructions (deviated septum, large adenoids/tonsils, tethered oral tissues, etc.) can cause the mouth to remain open and the tongue to rest low due to inability to efficiently breathe through the nose. A low tongue resting position can cause the palate to grow high and narrow, leading to sinus problems and dental malocclusions.
●Craniofacial abnormalities including high, narrow palates and dental malocclusions can lead to a variety of breathing, feeding, and speech problems.
●Improper/extended use of pacifiers and bottles (past 12 months of age) and the use of sippy cups/pouches can lead to delayed oral motor and feeding development and disrupted craniofacial growth.
●Oral habits such as finger/thumb sucking can lead to abnormal growth and shaping of the upper palate/roof of mouth and abnormal bites, such as an anterior open bite. High, narrow palates and open bites can lead to feeding and speech problems.
●Structural anomalies influence oral motor function and can cause disordered/compensatory function. Examples include but are not limited to tethered oral tissues (eg. tongue tie, labial tie), airway obstruction, cleft lip/palate. Compensatory patterns to these structural anomalies include mouth breathing, tongue thrust swallow pattern, and malocclusions.
●Neurological deficits require neuromuscular re-education to teach/re-pattern optimal oral rest posture and swallow patterns to improve breathing, sleeping, eating, and drinking.
Signs and Symptoms of OMD's:
-Drooling and poor oral control, specifically past the age of 2 years
-Open mouth posture
-Picky eating habits
-Problems with chewing and swallowing
-Finger/Thumb/ Tongue sucking
-Tongue thrust (abnormal tongue rest posture)
-Tethered Oral Tissues (lip/tongue/ buccal ties)