Orofacial myofunctional disorder, or OMD, refers to the development of atypical adaptive muscle function and patterns in the tongue, lips, jaw, and facial muscles. The tongue and lips are the most often studied myofunctional variants, yet there is a plethora of potential issues. Tongue thrust is the most prevalent orofacial myofunctional disorder. It is critical…
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy and Tongue Thrust
Orofacial myofunctional therapy refers to a number of treatment methods used to address conditions with the mouth and face. One condition is called tongue thrust, which requires the attention of multiple medical specialists, such as a dentist, physical therapist, and speech pathologist. These specialists will have to work together to determine the most appropriate way to correct the orofacial myofunctional disorder.
The following information highlights what tongue thrust is and why it is necessary to get orofacial myofunctional therapy for it.
Understanding the disorder
Tongue thrust is an orofacial myofunctional disorder that causes the tongue to push itself too far forward in the mouth. Oftentimes, this is referred to as an open bite in dentistry because the top and bottom arch are forced open. The tongue is usually in this position, even when resting.
While tongue thrust may not seem like a big deal, it actually is. It puts the entire oral cavity at risk, as the tongue is not meant to be exposed in this manner. For one, the tongue is put at risk of getting injured by external forces or the teeth themselves. Secondly, tongue thrust causes the teeth to have an open bite, which will make chewing problematic.
Although tongue thrust can be irritating and discouraging, what is important to remember is that help is available! Orofacial myofunctional therapy from a speech pathologist can be quite helpful in the management of the condition. Keep reading to find out more.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy
Below is a quick overview of what type of therapy is used to treat orofacial myofunctional disorders, such as tongue thrust.
What therapy is like
Therapy will consist of a few things. As it relates to the speech side of therapy, the orofacial myofunctional approach will focus on annunciation and the avoidance of lisps. Some of the most common practices include the following:
- Practicing breathing techniques
- Exercising the tongue in different directions
- Slowly annunciating certain sounds, letters, and words
- Getting comfortable with where the tongue is supposed to lie
Aside from the speech part of orofacial myofunctional therapy, other specialists may come in to tackle other areas. For example, orthodontic treatment may be required to correct the bite. Additionally, a sleep specialist may be needed if obstructive sleep apnea has been a concern as a result of the tongue thrust.
Although each case of tongue thrust is different, orofacial myofunctional therapy will almost always consist of attention from a speech pathologist. Even if speech seems to be unaffected, it is always a good idea to undergo a few sessions to ensure that language and speech remains refined.
Consult with a speech pathologist
When trying to determine how to address tongue thrust and other orofacial myofunctional disorders, it is best to consult with a speech pathologist. Their expertise gives them an advantage to be able to determine where to start. More often than not, the speech pathologist will bring in the assistance of other medical professionals to ensure that the physical and medical aspects of the condition are appropriately treated.
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