Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD)?

OMDs indicate abnormal function of the oral and facial muscles during swallowing and at rest. We can work on appropriate resting posture (where your teeth, tongue, and jaw are during eating, sitting, and talking). Supporting OMDs are often a team approach with dentists, orthodontists, pediatricians, ENTs, parents and SLPs.

How does this affect speech?

In order to have clear speech the tongue, jaw, lips, mouth, palate, and breathing work together to create percise articulation. When the tongue is not resting in the correct position (for example too far forward in the mouth, low in the mouth, pressing against teeth, it is difficult to produce clear speech. This will often come across as ‘mumbled’ or ‘garbled’ speech.. In addition, 80% of children with incorrect productions of /s/, /l/, and /r/, sounds have an OMD (Hanson, 2006).

How does this impact dental development?

When an individual has poor oral rest posture it is difficult for the lips, tongue, mouth, cheeks, and teeth to work together effectively. The constant pressure from improper tongue positioning will change dentition over time. This can negatively impact dental growth and development and often impact progress of orthodontic treatment or require orthodontic treatment more than once from relapse.

What does therapy involve?

By working on correct oral rest posture of the tongue – creating appropriate space in the mouth for speech and/or eating and appropriate eating etiquette including chewing, gathering, and swallowing food. This includes exercises to work on tongue positioning and eating as well as consistent home practice. .

Who is a good candidate for therapy?

Individuals over the age of 7 (or mature children under 7) who are motivated, can commit to practicing daily and attending sessions weekly (with decreasing frequency over treatment). Without consistent practice and motivation, treatment results will be inconsistent and ineffectual.

How long will therapy take?

Length of therapy depends on your motivation, commitment to treatment, and exercises provided! Myotherapy is hard work! With consistent effort results can be reached faster, however, changing the resting tongue posture can take time!

What if my child has an oral habit?

Adults or children who suck their thumbs, suck clothing or blankets, chew at their fingers, or any additional oral habits can definitely benefit from an assessment and therapy. Often these habits may indicate other concerns that can be addressed. Working on habit elimination is important in managing OMDs as well as for many children and adults. Contact me to discuss a plan for habit elimination!

What if my child has a tongue tie?

Children with TOTS (tethered oral tissues) can benefit from a functional assessment of speech, rest posture, chewing, and swallowing. Education regarding impact of TOT on function can be provided as well as beginning to learn and practice exercises before a tongue-tie release is completed. After a lingual frenectomy, we can evaluate the need for support on correct rest posture, chewing, gathering, and swallowing. Remember that releasing a tongue tie DOES NOT MEAN that you are releasing the function or fixing the problem – treatment is often required to support the tongues function.

Contact me for a full orofacial myofunctional assessment now or to learn if this is a good fit for your child!

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