myofunctional therapy
Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy is a program of exercises that helps you stop oral and facial habits that can change your appearance and affect your health. It retrains the muscles of your mouth, jaw and face, bringing them into harmony — instilling new and positive habits to make sure those changes last.

What is Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)?

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth.
OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, breastfeeding, facial skeletal growth and development, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more.

What causes Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

While it is often difficult to pinpoint a single cause of OMD, it can often result from one or more of the following problems:

* Improper oral habits including thumb, finger or long-term pacifier sucking

* Restricted airway due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids; allergies; or chronic nasal obstruction

* Family heredity

* Structural or physiological abnormalities such as a short lingual frenum (tongue tie) or abnormally large tongue (macroglossia)

* Chronic open mouth posture

* Neurological or developmental abnormalities

* What age should therapy begin?

Myofunctional Therapy Can Help:

* STOP a tongue thrust habit.

* START breathing through your nose instead of your mouth.

* QUIT thumb-sucking, nail-biting, lip/cheek-chewing or other poor habits.

* RE-TRAIN Facial and tongue muscle to recover physiological function.

* SUPPORT head-neck-body posture.

* PREVENT or correct Long Face Syndrome.

* ESTABLISH a harmonious oral environment.

* ADDRESS issues such as speech problems, sleep apnea, snoring, digestion, clenching/grinding habits and TMJ disorders.

How might Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) affect everyday life?

An OMD may lead to an abnormal bite – the improper alignment between the upper and lower teeth known as malocclusion.

This problem may lead to difficulties in biting, chewing, swallowing, and digesting of food. If you want more information about tongue thrusts, please contact us today.

What are some symptoms of OMD?

* Your lips usually rest apart.

* Your tongue routinely rests against your teeth or pokes out between them.

* You have trouble breathing through your nose.

* You routinely have headaches or jaw, face or neck pain.

* You habitually bite, suck or chew on your lips, nails, hair or other objects.

* You snore, sleep restlessly or sometimes stop breathing while asleep.

* You find it hard to eat neatly and quietly.

* You have trouble swallowing pills.

* You have speech issues.

* Your face is elongated.

Myofunctional therapy is suitable for everyone from age 4 on up. Treatment around the age of 7 or 8 is ideal as oral habits are less ingrained at this stage and easier to change, encouraging healthy dental growth.

What is a tongue thrust?

Tongue thrust (also called reverse swallow or immature swallow) is the common name of orofacial muscular imbalance, a human behavioral pattern in which the tongue protrudes through the anterior incisors during swallowing, speech, and while the tongue is at rest; but also the tip and/or sides of the tongue press against or spread between the teeth.

Why might a tongue thrust happen?

Constant pressure from resting or incorrectly thrusting the tongue away from the hard palate may push teeth out of place.

That pressure may later prevent teeth from erupting (breaking through the gum).

Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, tongue and throat.

What is the lip incompetence?

Lip incompetence is an inability to maintain a lips together, closed mouth posture at rest and showing strain in the muscles around the face when a lip seal is attempted.
Lip incompetence can result in changes in facial development, tooth eruption and alignment, breathing, swallowing and jaw joint function.

Thumb Sucking & Pacifier Use

Like many parents, you may be concerned about your child’s thumb sucking, finger sucking or pacifier use. You may wonder if it is harmful, at what age it should stop or what could happen if your child does not stop.

Thumb sucking seems like an innocent habit. Infants and young children find it soothing to suck on a thumb, finger or pacifiers. It is quite normal and many children stop sucking their thumb or fingers between the age of two and five years.

However, there are some children who will continue this habit until later years of life, causing not-so-pleasant dental problems and their self-esteem may be greatly affected. These Dental Problems Include:

* Crooked/misaligned teeth

* Misaligned jaws and crossbite

* Narrowed upper jaws

* Speech defects

* Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) – such as abnormal chewing and swallowing patterns (tongue thrust), improper tongue position.

What do you offer to help with thumb sucking?

Laurie Smith RDH offers a 4-week program that will help your patients to keep the thumbs where they should be – away from the mouth!


Pacifiers can affect the teeth the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. Pacifier use is often an easier habit to break.

It is not recommended that children use pacifiers or hard -lidded ‘sippy’ cups after age 2.

Sippy Cups

Babies suckle at birth and slowly advance to more mature swallow patterns. Sippy cups should be introduced at 6-8 months to assist development.

* Hard-lidded Sippy cups establish tongue protrusion patters.

* Long-term use of Sippy cups has been associated with developing speech problems, dental infections and cavities.

* Two years old is the recommended age to stop using Sippy cups and encourage open cup drinking.