What is OMD?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) involve problems with the posture and function of the muscles around the mouth. This includes the lips, the tongue, the facial and swallowing muscles, and the jaw muscles. Altered posture and function are common for both children and adults, but the effects on growth make their detection especially important as young as possible.

What causes OMD?

Causes of an OMD might include poor breathing habits, such as breathing through the mouth. Whatever the cause, your orofacial functions — the muscles of the mouth and face, as well as the tongue — adapt, creat

Many negative oral habits also classify as OMD, including the following:
• Lips-apart posture
• Sucking of the fingers or thumb
• Tongue posture low or between teeth
• Tethered oral tissue, such as tongue ties or lip ties
• Mouth-breathing

Myofunctional therapy

Myofunctional therapy has been proven as a sound treatment option for treating OMDs. Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT or MFT) consists of a course of exercises of the muscles of the face, mouth, and tongue. These exercises are simple and usually pain-free. A course of myofunctional therapy corrects the negative habits and behavior of an OMD by re-training the muscles to perform correctly.

Myofunctional therapy also can correct resting oral posture, including that of the tongue, lips, and jaw. These rest posture issues can cause problems with facial growth, as well as with the airway, which is a major contributing factor to a sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Consequences of an OMD

An OMD can affect swallowing, an action that occurs thanks to a balance between the tongue and muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. Abnormal behavior of the facial muscles can also affect your appearance, making a person appear dull, sluggish, or as if they are protruding a facial grimace. Speech issues, such as a lisp or difficulty articulating particular sounds, can also result from a misaligned posture of the tongue and lips.

Early intervention

To prevent these health consequences later in life, we recommend that children undergo routine dental checkups beginning by age one. Dr. Hockel can monitor the growth and development of your child’s jaw and mouth, and address any OMD issues as they arise.

If you notice the symptoms of an OMD in yourself or a member of your family, this problem will not just go away on its own. Call our office at (925) 934-3434 to schedule a consultation.

Life Dental & Orthodontics provides total oral care to patients from Walnut Creek, Clayton, Concord, and Lafayette, California, as well as the surrounding areas in the greater San Francisco East Bay and beyond.

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