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Orofacial-Myofunctional Disorders

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are atypical, adaptive patterns that emerge in the absence of normalized patterns within the orofacial complex. The regular presence of these adaptive movements can often result in a variety of disturbances.

 

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 result of a combination of factors. Many experts suggest that OMDs may develop as a result from 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

  • Hereditary predisposition

 

The most commonly noted etiology of an OMD is a lack of nasal breathing. When nasal breathing is impeded, the body naturally accommodates by relying on mouth breathing. Long-term mouth breathing changes the natural resting position of the jaw, tongue and lips. This change in position can influence growth patterns of the jaw and maxilla and often result in the development of significant malocclusion. Furthermore, long term mouth breathing compromises the natural process of breathing which relies on the nasal airway to cleanse and purify air for the pulmonary system.

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.

Examples of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders include one or a combination of the following:

  • Thumb and finger sucking habits

  • A routine habit of resting with the lips apart

  • A forward resting posture of the tongue between or against the teeth

  • Tongue Thrust

  • Other harmful oral habits

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are often related to, or can contribute to a variety of medical and dental disorders. These disorders can include:

  • Malocclusion (improper alignment of the teeth)

  • Periodontal disorders

  • Orthodontic relapse

  • Changes associated with abnormal jaw growth and position

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