The muscles of the mouth, tongue, lips and face work together to help us swallow, speak, breathe and eat. It’s a complicated exercise in coordination and sometimes (for a lot of different reasons), this coordination can’t happen the way it’s supposed to, leading to muscular imbalances. These imbalances can cause something called an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD), which is an umbrella term for issues like tongue thrust, thumbsucking (and other related patterns/habits), open mouth resting posture, and general chewing/swallowing difficulties.
What Causes an Orofacial Myofunctional
There are lots of different reasons people develop OMDs. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint one specific source or reason – in some cases, more than one culprit is at play. OMDs can be the result of:
- Oral habits like thumb/finger sucking, nail/cheek/cuticle biting, teeth clenching/grinding, tongue/lip/cheek sucking
- Chronic airway obstruction due to allergies, enlarged tonsils/adenoids or deviated septum
- Tongue ties or other structural/physiological abnormalities
- Genetic predisposition
- Physical/Developmental anomalies
- Neurological deficits and developmental delays
- Oral Breathing
- Prolonged use of a pacifier or sippy cup
Why work with a Speech Therapist trained in Orofacial Myology?
OMDs are particularly tricky, and understanding what’s causing the issue (and why) is important in making sure patients get the most effective types of therapy, and if necessary, referred to the right clinicians.
- Open mouth posturing
- Tongue thrust swallow
- Articulation (speech) disorders
- Mouth Breathing
- Underdeveloped oral-facial muscles
- Sleep Disordered Breathing/Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Abnormal chewing and swallowing patterns
- Thumb and finger habits
- Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTS)
- Tongue tie (where the thin piece of skin under a baby’s tongue restricts movement of the tongue)
- Upper lip restriction (where upper lip is anchored to the gum)