July 24, 2019
Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) are the result of adaptive patterns that develop from habitual improper movements. The abnormal patterns can impact the proper growth, development, or function of the orofacial structures. As a result, OMD often co-occurs with speech and swallowing disorders. Without early intervention, it can directly or indirectly lead to a variety of symptoms, such as complications with breathing or chewing. The habitual patterns can also cause dental problems, like malocclusion issues. Your holistic dentist in Southlake can explain how myofunctional therapy resolves the concerns to improve overall quality of life.
Causes of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Although the cause of OMD can vary, the majority are the result of chronic mouth breathing. It causes the muscles and orofacial functions to adapt to accommodate the abnormal breathing patterns. In addition to breathing issues, it can also be the result of:
- Thumb and finger sucking habits.
- Habit of resting with the lips apart.
- Resting the tongue against the teeth.
- Tongue thrusting.
Symptoms of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
No matter the cause of the disorder, a variety of symptoms can occur, such as:
- Habitual open mouth when in the resting position.
- Abnormal structure of the lingual frenulum.
- Dental abnormalities, such as an overjet, open bite, or under bite.
- Abnormal tongue rest posture.
- Interdental lisp.
- Abnormal lingual dental articulatory placement.
- Drooling or poor oral control after the age of 2.
- Frequent sucking habits after the age of 12 months.
- Difficulty swallowing correctly.
Treating Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Children as young as 4 years of age can undergo an evaluation for a customized treatment plan, but it is never too late to correct the issues. Treating orofacial myofunctional disorders requires a collaborative approach between a variety of professionals, such as your family dentist in Southlake and speech-language pathologists. Depending on the cause of the abnormalities, symptoms, and complications, an individualized treatment plan is created.
Correcting Malocclusion Issues
The complications of myofunctional disorders can be apparent at a very young age. Often, they take the form of an abnormal bite. Orthodontics can provide early intervention to prevent the problem from worsening or to correct those that have already developed.
No matter the patient’s age, resolving malocclusion concerns enhance overall facial and oral aesthetics while also creating a harmonious balance with the teeth. Not only does this improve the ability to perform simple oral functions, but it also strengthens the muscles used for everyday tasks, like chewing, biting, and swallowing.
Besides traditional braces, other orthodontic appliances may be needed, such as Healthy Start or ALF. Often, the devices are necessary when tongue thrusting puts pressure on the teeth, leading to malocclusion issues, like an open bite. The appliances retrain the tongue by restricting its movements to prevent it from pushing against the teeth. In some cases, restricted tongue movement, such as a tongue-tie, can also cause the complications. A frenectomy may be necessary to free the tongue.
The devices can also be used to expand the arches or airway. This can help to resolve dental issues from a narrow jaw or promote proper breathing.
Improving Facial Aesthetics
Correcting the position of the teeth can resolve mouth breathing caused by the lips being partially open. This allows the mouth to close fully while also improving the function of the muscles in the cheeks, chin, and lips to enhance the ability to chew, speak, swallow, and breathe correctly. This also creates a pleasing facial appearance to reverse a dull or sluggish look caused by poor muscle balance.
Improve Your Quality of Life
Your dentist can help those with OMD using a customized treatment plan. Whether you or your child need myofunctional therapy, it is never too late to invest in personalized solutions for an improved quality of life.
About Dr. Preetha Thomas
Dr. Preetha Thomas has completed advanced training in oral pathology and received her Master’s in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. She provides assessment for tongue-tie and performs frenectomies in her office. If you or a loved one need an assessment, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
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