What is Orofacial Myology?
Orofacial Myology involves the treatment of Orofacial Myofunctional disorders (OMD) and the restoration of correct muscle patterns of the face and mouth, in order to support proper growth & development of the jaws and facial structure.
It is also very useful in maintaining stability of orthodontic treatments.
It is commonly referred to as myofunctional therapy.
What causes an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?
It is often difficult to identify a single cause for an Orofacial Myofunctional disorder.
Most involve a combination of factors that may include:
• An airway restriction from enlarged tonsils or adenoids, allergies or anatomical
variations involving the pharynx or nasal cavity.
• Oral habits such as finger or thumb sucking, nail biting, teeth clenching or grinding.
• Neurological and developmental delays or abnormalities.
• Structural or physiological variations such as short lingual frenum (tongue tie).
• Hereditary predisposition to any of the above factors.
How prevalent are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?
Research examining a number of different population groups has found that 38% have orofacial myofunctional disorders and in addition to this, in children exhibiting speech/articulation problems the incidence has been found to be 81%.
Is Myofunctional Therapy Dental Treatment?
The principles involved with assessment and treatment of orofacial myofunctional disorders are based upon dental science principles, however, Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is not dental treatment.
How does Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy differ from Dental or Orthodontic treatment?
The focus of dental examinations and treatments is primarily on providing health and stability of teeth when they are in contact.
By contrast, Myofunctional Therapy is concerned with functional orofacial (mouth and face) muscle patterns and postures when the teeth are apart (ie not in contact), which they are for over 95% of each day and night.
How do I know if my child needs Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
A qualified Orofacial Myologist is able to accurately assess and diagnose OMD (Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders), and can provide advice on your best treatment options.
Adults and children with tongue thrust, poor tongue and/or lip rest position, open mouth posture, mouth breathing habit, inefficient chewing pattern, atypical swallowing and those with non-nutritive habits such as thumb or finger sucking, can all benefit from orofacial myology.
Do all Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders need to be treated?
The short answer is ‘no’. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy may be recommended for a variety of reasons for children and adults, however if no adverse outcomes from an OMD are evident, your Orofacial Myologist will most likely recommend no treatment.
In some instances, OMD cannot be successfully treated without prior intervention from other professionals such as Ear Nose & Throat or Temporomandibular Joint Specialists or Orthodontists. Referrals to appropriate practitioners will be made where necessary.
Children from the age of 6 years are often very good candidates for Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. Motivated teenagers and adults of all ages are also capable of successful treatment outcomes.
In the case of a thumb sucking child or a child with other non-nutritive habits, age 5 is the ideal age to commence a behaviour modification program to eliminate the habit. At this age, children will generally have developed the intellectual and emotional skills required for success.
With early elimination of these habits, improvement in dental, speech and OMD problems is frequently observed.
Is treatment effective?
Many recent scientific studies have shown that treatment for Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders can be 80-90% effective in correcting swallowing and rest posture function and that these corrections are retained years after completing therapy.