Myofunctional Disorders

According to the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM), an Oral Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) occurs when there is an abnormal tongue, jaw or lip position during rest, swallowing or speech. OMD’s can interfere with normal growth and development of the muscles and bones of the face and mouth. These can have a negative effect on dentition, jaw development and breathing. OMD’s can hinder orthodontic treatment and may cause a relapse.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder may include one or a combination of the following:

  • Incorrect swallowing pattern consisting of the improper placement and function of the tongue during swallowing with the tongue thrusting in between, forward or on the sides against the teeth (referred to as “tongue thrust”)
  • Incorrect lip and tongue resting posture consisting of an open mouth, low, forward resting position of the tongue against and /or between the teeth
  • Oral habits such as thumb, finger or pacifier sucking habits and other oral habits including fingernail biting, lip biting, lip and tongue sucking habits.

Signs of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder include:

  • Breathing through the mouth with lips apart and not through the nose
  • Tongue positioned forward at rest and when swallowing (tongue thrust)
  • Limited tongue movement
  • Messy eating and drooling
  • An overbite, open bite and/ or other dental problems
  • Speech difficulties such as : s, z, sh, J, r, l, t, d, n sounds
  • Sleep Disorders

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy involves an individualized program of exercises

  • To retrain patterns of muscle function to improve tongue, lip, jaw and facial resting posture,
  • To improve chewing, swallowing and
  • To improve speech
  • Eliminating sucking habits,
  • Repositioning a forward resting posture (tongue thrust),
  • Closing the lips and facilitating nasal breathing.

Speech-language Pathologists and Certified Orofacial Myologists (COM) work closely with dentists, orthodontists, ENT’s and other professionals to address Orofacial Myofunctional disorders.

Cheryl Kaplan, CCC-SLP; COM is a Certified Speech Language Pathologist through The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and a Certified Orofacial Myologist through the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) who is highly trained to work with children, teenagers and adults who have an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder.

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