What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

An Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) is an imbalance of the mouth, tongue, lips and facial muscles used for proper resting posture and swallowing. The most common OMD is “tongue thrust”, an improper swallow pattern. Other OMDs include habit patterns such as thumbsucking, open mouth resting posture, and chewing/swallowing difficulties.

Why a Certified Orofacial Myologist?

The International Association of Orofacial Myology, (IAOM) is the founding governing body in the Certification of Orofacial Myology. It is the oldest and largest non-profit organization that trains, educates and certifies in orofacial myofunctional therapy. The IAOM ensures that standards of education are consistent and high.

It is often difficult to isolate a particular source as the sole cause of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder and in most cases, it can be the result of a combination of factors. Many experts suggest that OMDs may develop as a result of the following:

  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum, and/or allergies.
  • Improper oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking, cheek/nail/cuticle biting, teeth clenching/grinding, and tongue, lip or cheek sucking
  • Extended use of a pacifier and/or long-term use of sippy cups
  • Structural or physiological abnormalities which may include a short lingual frenum (tongue-tie)
  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays
  • Oral Breathing
  • Hereditary predisposition

It is crucial to first address what may be contributing to the persistence of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder before beginning treatment, as treatment may not be successful if the etiology persists. A Certified Orofacial Myologist can help you to determine what may be contributing to its presence and can help refer you to the appropriate clinicians to address these concerns.

What Causes an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

OMDs most often occur due to a number of factors. Some of these can include:

  • Prolonged oral habits like pacifier use, thumb-sucking, or finger sucking
  • Chronic airway obstruction due to allergies, enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Tongue ties
  • Family heredity
  • Physical/Developmental anomalies

Myofunctioal Therapy can help with…

  • Thumb and finger habits
  • Open mouth posturing
  • Tongue thrust swallow
  • Articulation (speech) disorders
  • Mouth Breathing
  • Underdeveloped oral-facial muscles
  • Sleep Disordered Breathing/Obstructive Sleep Apnea