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Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy


Blonde woman touches her uncomfortable cheekAn orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) is a disorder that affects the muscles and functions of the mouth and face. OMDs are usually traceable to chronically inadequate nasal breathing or oral breathing. Muscles and orofacial functions then adapt to these improper breathing patterns, commonly resulting in OMDs.

Fortunately, Summit Dental Group's team of skilled dentists can treat OMDs with myofunctional therapy.

Swallowing


To swallow properly, your mouth, face, and throat must have a proper relationship. The body's vital balance upholds your ability to swallow the right way. The nerves and muscles in the cheeks, tongue, and throat must work together to perform this function.

People swallow between 500 and 1,000 times per day. As a result, if you swallow improperly you are subject to a variety of oral health problems. Surprisingly, since the resting position of the tongue is the most constant, it does the most significant damage.

Oral Problems Caused by OMDs


More than one dental problem results from OMD. Here are some that may arise if the condition is not treated:
•  Tongue thrust can occur when the tongue pushes between or against your teeth when you swallow.
•  If the tongue exerts constant pressure between or against the teeth, this can prevent the teeth from aligning properly, resulting in a problem known as an open bite.
•  OMDs can cause a malocclusion, which is when your upper and lower teeth become misaligned. A misaligned bite can bring difficulties chewing, biting, swallowing, digesting, and even speaking.
•  OMDs make it harder for planned orthodontics work to succeed.

Causes of Tongue Thrust


Enlarged tonsils can block the airway, pushing the tongue into an improper position. Children who suck their thumbs or fingers can also thereby push their tongues into lower positions where they push against their teeth.

Speech Problems Caused by OMDs


People who have abnormal patterns of oral muscles may speak with a lisp or have trouble with articulation. When muscles in the lips and tongue are improperly positioned, this can make it harder to form even normal speech sounds. Oral muscles that don't function properly can also cause other problems, such as headaches, airway obstruction, stomach pain (from swallowing too much air), sleep apnea, and TMJ disorders.

OMDs and Sleep Apnea


Recent studies have shown that myofunctional therapy helps alleviate mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and can reduce the symptoms of sleep disordered breathing such as snoring. The muscles of the face, throat, and tongue reduce obstruction to the airway when they function properly.

What is Myofunctional Therapy?


Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) is used to remove several of the causes of swallowing problems and correct the resting position of the tongue.

The procedure for orofacial myofunctional therapy is painless and simple. When certain facial muscles are active and functioning as they should, other muscles nearby will do the same until the facial and tongue muscles are coordinated.

If we want this therapy to succeed, the patient will need to consistently exercise every day until their abnormal muscle pattern is fixed. This will take time, as well as commitment on the part of the patient and, if necessary, the patient's family. The treatment length varies, but it usually requires regular exercises over a period of 6 to 12 months.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact our office.
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