A Quick Guide to Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)

Orofacial Myofunctional Richmond, TX

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) affect the oral and orofacial muscles, inhibiting their normal growth, development, and function. OMDs affect patients of all age groups and may be diagnosed alongside other types of speech and swallowing problems. This article talks about the causes, effects, and treatment of orofacial myofunctional disorders.

An overview of orofacial myofunctional disorders

OMDs may include one or more of the following:

  • Improper tongue and lip resting position, including an open mouth or low tongue protrusion relative to the teeth
  • Improper swallowing pattern, seen through wrong tongue positioning and function while swallowing. Previously called tongue thrust, the tongue thrusts forward, sideways, or between the teeth
  • Oral habits, including prolonged pacifier use, thumb or finger sucking, tongue and lip sucking, fingernail biting, and lip biting

Causes of OMDs

Orofacial myofunctional disorders are often caused by learned behaviors, genetic and environmental factors, and structural elements. Up to 80 percent of patients with OMDs also have an issue with nasal airway interference, while the other 20 percent typically have a bad habit like thumb or finger sucking. Most cases of OMDs can also result from structural or physiological defects such as tongue-tie, weak muscle strength, or genetic predisposition to the above factors.

The effect of orofacial myofunctional disorders

OMDs can adversely affect the development of the teeth and facial form. It disrupts eruption patterns and dental alignment. The abnormal habits, postures, and functions can cause the bite to open awkwardly, which can disrupt normal teeth eruption in children and overcrowding in some adults. OMDs can compromise orthodontic treatment, slowing down the process or disturbing its stability. Patients cannot get temporomandibular joint devices because abnormal oral functions can impair or damage them.

Lip incompetence, in which the lips rest in open positions, usually affects people with OMDs. This negates the role played by closed lips on the development and maintenance of proper dental arch and facial form. Gradually, patients may develop cosmetic issues, malocclusion, and abnormal changes in jaw development and positioning. Chronic open-mouth rest posture can cause changes like retruded chin, downward and backward development of the lower face, increased face vertical height, and flaccid and hypotonic lips.

Children or adults with improper chewing or swallowing patterns often eat with open lips, typically taking big chunks and swallowing without chewing the food properly. This action can cause noisy chewing and swallowing, food particles all over the mouth, and an untidy eating area. Patients may also experience stomach upset from taking in excess air.

Treatment for OMDs

Orofacial myofunctional therapy, also called rest posture therapy, is the intervention for OMDs. The therapy is effective for postural and functional disorders of the oral and facial muscles that may impact normal oral development and cause cosmetic issues and speech disorders. Patients will undergo a personalized routine of exercises to correct muscle function patterns responsible for chewing, facial shape, chewing, dental occlusion, and swallowing.

Final note

Orofacial myofunctional disorders typically develop early in a patient’s life. Fortunately, early intervention can prevent the problem from worsening significantly.

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