Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

myofunctional therapyWalnut Creek, Concord, and Lafayette, CA

What is OMD?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) involve exaggerated movements of the mouth or tongue. This type of disorder is most common in children but also presents itself in teenagers as well as adults.

What causes OMD?

Causes of an OMD also might include poor breathing habits, such as breathing through the mouth. Whatever the cause, your orofacial functions—the muscles of the mouth and face, as well as the tongue—adapt, creating negative behaviors which manifest as OMDs.

Many negative oral habits also classify as OMD, including the following:

  • Tethered oral tissue, such as tongue ties or lip ties
  • Tongue thrust
  • Sucking of the fingers or thumb
  • Narrow upper palate
  • Poor oral posture

Myofunctional therapy

Myofunctional therapy has been proven as a sound treatment option for treating OMDs. Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) consists of a course of exercises of the muscles of the face, mouth, and tongue. These exercises are simple and usually pain-free. A course of myofunctional therapy corrects the negative habits and behavior of an OMD by re-training the muscles to perform correctly.

Myofunctional therapy also can correct resting posture of the tongue or jaw. These resting posture issues can cause problems with the airway, a major contributing factor to a sleep breathing disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Consequences of an OMD

An OMD can affect swallowing, an action that occurs thanks to a balance between the tongue and muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. Abnormal behavior of the facial muscles also can affect appearance, making a person appear dull or sluggish or producing a facial grimace. Speech issues, such as a lisp or problems articulating particular sounds, also can result from a misaligned posture of the tongue and lips.

Early intervention

To prevent these health consequences later in life, we recommend that children undergo routine dental checkups beginning by age one. Dr. Hockel can monitor the growth and development of your child’s jaw and mouth, and address any OMD issues as they arise.

If you notice the symptoms of an OMD in yourself or a member of your family, this problem will not just go away on its own. Call our office at (925) 705-4055 to schedule a consultation.

Brian Hockel, DDS, provides total oral health care to patients in the areas of Walnut Creek, Concord, and Lafayette, California.