What are the
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs involve behaviors and patterns created by inappropriate muscle function and incorrect habits involving the tongue, lips, jaw and face.
OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly,
- facial skeletal growth and development,
- temporomandibular joint movement,
- oral hygiene,
- stability of orthodontic treatment,
- facial esthetics, and more.
Of the many possible myofunctional variations, those involving the tongue and lips receive the most attention. A tongue thrust is the most common orofacial myofunctional variation. During the act of swallowing, (deglutition), and/or during rest posture, an incorrect positioning of the tongue may contribute to improper orofacial development and maintenance of the misalignment of the teeth. An orofacial variation that relates to the lips is an open mouth, lips apart resting posture. This is often referred to as lip incompetence and can distract from a pleasing facial appearance.
Many recent scientific studies have shown that treatment for OMDs can be 80-90% effective in correcting swallowing and rest posture function and that these corrections are retained years after completing therapy.
Correcting or improving resting tongue or lip relationships can be instrumental in aiding the development of normal patterns of dental eruption and alignment. Myofunctional therapy for tongue thrusting and lip incompetence may be recommended for a variety of functional or cosmetic reasons.
If the patient already has orthodontic appliances, correcting the myofunctional disorder can help stabilize the orthodontic result by creating a more desirable and healthier oral environment. Usually the therapy programs are designed to retrain patterns of muscle function and to aid in the creation and maintenance of a healthy, adaptive orofacial environment. Therapy can help in the retention of the dental and/or orthodontic treatment, in the enhancement one's appearance and in the maintenance of optimum dental health for a lifetime of benefits.
There are many possible variations of orofacial myofunctional disorders just as there are many patterns of normal function. Some patterns are more common than others. The effects of these patterns need to be evaluated individually, especially when there are dental, medical, or speech concerns. The decision to treat or not to treat should be made by a professional trained in Orofacial Myology.