Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) encompass disorders of the muscles and function of the face and mouth that may disrupt nasal breathing, proper tongue posture, proper swallow pattern, and lip seal. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) involves the retraining of the oral and facial muscles through exercise and behavioural modification.
Some core symptoms of OMD include, a low tongue posture, tongue thrust swallow pattern, tongue thrust during speech, mouth breathing, and open mouth posture.
Main Goals of OMT
We are obligate nose breathers. When we are not breathing through our nose it is often a compensation for a dysfunction. Nose breathing allows us to breathe deeply and leads to better uptake of oxygen, allowing our bodies to heal.
An open mouth posture may be the result of a history of mouth breathing. An open mouth posture can lead to changes in facial structures and appearance. Children may outgrow an open mouth posture, but it becomes less likely and more difficult after the age of four or five.
Proper Resting Tongue Posture
Proper tongue placement may be impacted by mouth breathing, tongue tie, allergies, oral habits such thumb sucking or prolonged use of a pacifier or bottles. The underlying problem will need to be addressed before the tongue thrust itself.
Proper Swallow Pattern
Oral development arises from early feeding experiences. Thumb/finger sucking, extended use of pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups can keep the mouth open, tongue low, and promote a swallow pattern that is no longer age-appropriate. These habits can change muscle function overtime.
Is OMT Right for Me or My Child?
If you have any concerns regarding any of the areas addressed above, OMT can help. OMT is strongly recommended as a pre- and post-op care for individuals planning to get a frenectomy (tongue-tie release) as it can decrease the chances of an incomplete release or reattachment. It is also beneficial for those who have experienced, or want to prevent orthodontic relapse.
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