Frequently asked questions

What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

An orofacial myofunctional disorder describes any irregularities in the form and
function of the muscles or the face and mouth. This may also include dental or
skeletal structures that could affect normal growth and development. OMDs can occur
through the lifespan, and may present differently in different age groups. For the
younger child, oral habits and/or difficulty with feeding or chewing may be seen. In
children, adolescents, and adults symptoms may include:
- persisting food aversions
- mouth breathing,
- tongue thrust swallow
- improper alignment/ posture
-improper jaw growth or malocclusion
-sleep disordered breathing/apnea
-impaired speech production
-facial pain

Is a Tongue Thrust an OMD?

A tongue thrust is one of the most commonly diagnosed symptoms of an OMD
because most professionals can readily identify it. However, it may just be one
symptom a patient presents with. A tongue thrust refers to the resting posture of the
tongue against or through the teeth and the pushing of the tongue against the teeth
during a swallow. Experts estimate that we swallow 1000 to 2000 times a day with
between 4 and 8 pounds of pressure per swallow. This constant pressure can push
the teeth out of place, causing an abnormal bite known as malocclusion.
A tongue thrust is not only seen during the swallow but can be seen during speech
and at rest as well. The improper posture of the tongue may cause difficulty with
forming sounds of normal speech and may be present in the form of a lisp and/or
other speech sound errors.

Should I be Concerned About an OMD?

The constant, improperly placed pressure of the muscles of the face and tongue can
have a lasting effect. They can cause significant problems with a person's dental
health, speech, and cosmetic appearance. Misalignment of the teeth (malocclusion)
can also cause patients to become more susceptible to periodontal disease or “gum
disease.” Malocclusion also can cause “jaw joint” problems, facial pain, difficulty
biting or chewing food, and excessive grinding of the teeth (bruxing).

What Can I Do About an OMD?

Effectively correcting an OMD requires an interdisciplinary approach. The
best results are almost always achieved by working with a team of experts
that may include an orthodontist, dentist, pediatrician, ENT, oral surgeon,
and physical therapist trained in orofacial myofunctional therapy. Even
with the work of an orthodontist and dentist to correct problems that have
already occurred, the habit at the root of the issue must be addressed to
prevent further complications and promote long-term success with your
orthodontic investments.
Through programs such as Tongue Tips. therapists work to re-train the
muscles of the face and tongue for proper posture at rest, during speech
and during swallowing. Patients are able to simply and effectively
eliminate the long term problems associated with an OMD.

Why Does an OMD Happen?

Usually there is not one cause of an OMD, rather several contributing factors may
be involved. Some of these may include prolonged oral habits ( thumb, finger,
pacifier use), airway obstruction either from enlarged tonsils/ adenoids or nasal
cavity, allergies, structural abnormalities such as tied oral tethers ("TOTs" including
a short lingual or labial frenulum) or a narrow, high palate.