What are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)?

OMDs are disorders that include at least one of the following:

  • Incorrect placement of the tongue at rest (against or between the front teeth, or on floor of the mouth)

  • An open mouth rest posture (when lips are not closed together at rest)

  • Any sucking habit (thumb, finger, lip or tongue)


Why Be Concerned About OMDs?

OMDs can cause:

  • Dental malocclusion (teeth not positioned properly)

  • Atypical pattern of swallowing (tongue thrust swallowing pattern with saliva, liquids and solids)

  • Difficulty chewing food (“sloppy eaters”)

  • Mispronunciation of sounds (frontal and lateral lisp)

  • Improper facial growth patterns (development of a long face, retruded chin)

  • Jaw joint pain

  • Weak lips


In children, OMDs are linked to a disruption of the dental development.  


What Are Typical Tongue and Lip Resting Postures?

As you read this, it is expected that your tongue should rest comfortably into the upper arch.  Importantly, your upper and lower teeth should not touch, allowing for a resting dental freeway space. Your lips are closed and you are breathing comfortably through your nose with your hands away from your face.


Any changes to those typical tongue and lip resting postures, caused by an airway issue blocking continuous nasal breathing, prolonged sucking habit of thumb/finger/pacifier, nail biting habit, or leaning your face on your hand, can disrupt the dental freeway space.


Research has shown that only a few hours of incorrect resting dental freeway space can result in unwanted, permanent changes of dental development.


What Are the Benefits of myofunctional therapy combined with orthodontics?

Our dentists can realign your teeth and restore your smile, however, when incorporating orofacial myology, positive results are sustained over time. Specifically, with retraining of the tongue’s patterns and positions during the use of braces or other mechanical forces, stability of the orthodontia will result. By eliminating poor oral habits, orthodontic relapse is less likely to occur. It is likely that the habits or behaviors that have initially disrupted the dental development will continue to do so unless corrected.


What Can Be Achieved with Orofacial Myofunctional Treatment?

The goals of orofacial myofunctional therapy are to eliminate poor habits and establish:

  • An optimal resting tongue position

  • Adequate lip seal at rest

  • A typical pattern of swallowing

  • Bilateral chewing and correct drinking habits

  • Nasal breathing

  • Good neck and head posture


Early detection and intervention of orofacial myofunctional disorders are critical to the overall health and development of infants and children.

Intervention with adults avoids orthodontic relapse, supports healthy jaw joints and improves sleep quality.       


How Are OMDs Treated?

OMDs are treated by reeducation exercises of the oral and facial muscles that are customized for every patient.


Success in therapy depends greatly on individual motivation and commitment to the therapy program.