Orofacial Myology

Mouth Matters Orofacial Myology and Thumb Sucking Therapy girl blowing bubbles crop

Orofacial Myology is the study and treatment of disorders that involve a variety of postural and functional abnormalities of the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaw, and face that can occur in both children and adults.

These disorders are described as Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD).

In most cases, OMD are the result of a combination of factors, and can result from:
• abnormal thumb, finger, lip, and tongue sucking habits
• habits such as nail biting, cheek and lip biting, clothes chewing,
and grinding of teeth during sleep
• a restricted airway, which can be the result of enlarged tonsils or adenoids,
a narrow upper jaw, a large tongue or allergies
• structural or physiological issues such as “tongue tie”
• neurological or developmental abnormalities
• hereditary disposition to any of the above factors

The controlled and continuous forces which OMD produce on the facial skeleton, muscles, teeth and jaws, is similar to that of orthodontics (bands or braces).

Over time, if left untreated, this force can contribute to the development of:
• inappropriate resting posture of the mouth or lips in an open position
• a forward upper or lower resting posture of the tongue
• a tongue resting position between the front, side, or back teeth
• inappropriate thrusting of the tongue during speaking and/or swallowing
• mouth breathing habits, typically as the result of an inability to breathe
adequately through the nose
• poor posture
• crooked teeth and a crowded mouth
• an improper bite relationship
• developmental abnormalities of the upper and lower jaws and facial structures,
causing asymmetrical lip and facial appearance and function
• incorrect chewing function
• altered speech patterns

OMD can negatively influence dental growth, slow orthodontic treatment, and in many cases it may undermine the long-term stability of an orthodontic correction, resulting in relapse.

Current research has revealed that around 80% of patients with an undiagnosed or untreated OMD may have speech problems. When there is a combination of OMD and related speech problems, it is often difficult to correct the speech problems through traditional speech therapy until the OMD are corrected also.

Children and even adults with an incorrect chewing and swallowing pattern, including an inability to breathe adequately through the nose, may frequently chew their food with their lips open.

This can result in digestive issues such as an upset stomach, reflux and bloating, as air is swallowed along with partially chewed food.

Mouth Matters offers therapy programs for children to correct OMD.  A therapy program typically deals with changing behaviour and muscle function to correct abnormal posture and swallowing patterns, and encourage proper facial growth and development including tooth alignment, jaw shape, function and speech.

Programs offered are:
• Tongue rest posture
• Thumb, finger and dummy sucking
• Biting and chewing habits
• Mouth breathing
• Breathing re-training
• Open lip posture