Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) affect the muscles of the mouth and face and cause atypical muscle movement patterns. These patterns can interfere with breathing, eating and talking.

Research indicates that 38 percent of the general population and up to 81 percent of children have speech/articulation problems caused by OMDs. 

The consequences of these disorders can be severe if left untreated. OMDs can, directly and indirectly, affect facial and skeletal growth and development, bite alignment, movement of the jaw joints, and facial aesthetics. OMDs can also affect oral hygiene and the stability of past and future orthodontic treatment.

Some causes of OMDs include:

  • Thumb sucking
  • Finger sucking
  • Adopting an oral resting posture with the lips apart
  • Adopting a forward resting posture
  • Insufficient room in the jaws for the tongue, which forces it between or against the teeth
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Nail biting
  • Cheek sucking
  • Genetic disorders, such as Down’s syndrome

These habits may not seem like a huge deal. But over time, they can contribute to or become a symptom of various medical and dental disorders, such as an unbalanced bite, gum disease, abnormal jaw growth and position, breathing disorders, and orthodontic relapse after braces or other orthodontic treatments.

OMDs can also contribute to tooth decay and gum disease because, for some individuals, orofacial myofunctional disorders can limit the tongue’s expected movement, which can decrease saliva flow and reduce the tongue’s ability to clean the mouth.

Digestive problems are another concern for patients with OMD, as improper swallowing can cause gastrointestinal issues and contribute to poor dietary choices.

What Causes Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

While a single root cause of any orofacial myofunctional disorder may be hard to determine, in many cases, OMDs develop due to a combination of several factors, including:

  • Tongue-ties
  • An obstructed upper airway caused by enlarged tonsils/adenoids
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Deviated septum
  • Enlarged or swollen nasal turbinates
  • Chronic allergies
  • Extended use of a pacifier
  • Extended use of bottles and sippy cups
  • Genetics
  • Developmental delays
  • Neurological defects
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Sarah’s parents knew it was important to start orthodontic treatment early. After receiving orthodontic care combined with myofunctional therapy, Sarah is now a thriving teenager who is happy with her smile.

Everyone’s super nice, they’re all welcoming. I love Conchi. I really feel happy here, so I wouldn’t go anywhere else. I trust them completely.

Myofunctional Therapy

How Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Can Help

Oral myofunctional therapy can help train or retrain the face’s muscles to help reach a normal resting posture of the tongue, lips and jaw (read The Big Three). Myofunctional therapy uses a series of exercises to achieve correct resting posture of the tongue and lips. 

At Miami Designer Smiles, we offer myofunctional therapy as part of our comprehensive approach to patient care. Myofunctional treatment is highly individualized, and exercises are specific for your individual needs.

We can help you or your child overcome orofacial myofunctional disorders through a series of therapeutic exercises and help you achieve better oral and overall health.

Our goals are to help you:

  • Understand and practice proper tongue position/proper oral rest posture
  • Understand the importance of practicing continuous nasal breathing
  • Stop mouth breathing
  • Train or retrain your tongue and orofacial muscles to reduce symptoms of OMDs, improving sleep, nasal breathing and speech; correcting oral resting posture; reducing jaw pain; and providing other benefits.

By practicing myofunctional therapy, you can gain better health, enjoy eating and drinking, breathe with ease, and sleep better.

Many patients also see aesthetic improvements in their appearance and restoration of self-confidence and self-esteem.

Myofunctional therapy is highly beneficial, especially in conjunction with dental treatments such as Controlled Arch Braces and neuromuscular dentistry.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy has helped thousands of people across the United States. Numerous research studies have shown that it is incredibly useful in treating OMDs to achieve ideal oral rest posture, swallowing and breathing, with results lasting years after myofunctional therapy ends.

Learn more about orofacial myofunctional therapy by calling Miami Designer Smiles today.

Why Worry About OMDs?

As we mentioned above, OMDs can have severe consequences if left untreated, including:

  • Impaired breathing
  • Increased allergies, asthma, and swollen tonsils and adenoids
  • Detrimental oral habits and behaviors that can impair normal jaw growth and development
  • Negative consequences for chewing and swallowing, including tongue thrust
  • Impaired speech or speech delays
  • Limited jaw growth
  • Underdeveloped facial structure
  • Misalignment of the teeth
  • Jaw pain or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD)
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck and back pain
  • Sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea
  • Picky eating and problems with food textures
  • Difficulty swallowing

OMDs can also negatively impact how you look, causing a dull, sluggish appearance. Many people with OMDs are also unable to close their lips properly due to malfunctioning facial muscles.

OMDs and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Some studies have also shown that OMDs can increase the likelihood of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in some individuals. When functioning correctly, the tongue, throat and facial muscles reduce obstruction to the airway and OSA symptoms.