Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) include the abnormal rest postures and functioning of the oral and facial muscles and soft tissue complex.
OMD's can often result in an atypical swallow pattern that is often referred to as a "tongue thrust." This atypical swallow pattern involves the coordination and patterning related to mastication (chewing), bolus formation/collection and transport of the bolus posteriorly. During this atypical swallow the tongue will stabilize itself anteriorly or "between the teeth" during the transport phase. When the tongue positions itself forward or sideways against and/or between the teeth during the process, it can have an adverse affect on the position of the dentition, craniofacial development, the orofacial soft tissue complex and coordinated patterns of all the associated musculature. It is estimated this disorder is prevalent in 30% of the population.
The resting posture of the tongue, jaw, and lips are extremely important in the normal developmental growth patterns. Atypical patterns may result in improper resting position of the tongue resulting in "openbite" or other malocclusion and open mouth rest posture.
Contributing factors are often related to chronic upper airway obstruction related to enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids, allergies, and sinus obstruction and often result in sleep disordered breathing. Other contributors are delayed developmental patterns associated with early sucking and feeding problems or develop as a result of long term non-nutritive sucking habits that include: thumb and digit sucking; extending use of pacifiers and sippy cups. Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) can often result in chronic bruxing and clenching of the dentition and facial muscles resulting in chronic pain, TMJ dysfunction, and craniofacial development changes. Untreated OMD's can ften lead to the development of TMD (temporal mandibular disorder) and pain associated with it in adults.
Tongue-tie is often another causative factor often associated with the development of OMD's. Many specialists agree that a restricted lingual frenum can result in dental, speech, and dentofacial skeletal changes (jaw and palate formation).
Because of the specialization of orofacial myology practitioners work closely with a variety of healthcare professionals to address problems that may ensue. They include: pediatricians, otolaryngologists, allergists, dental specialists, maxiofacial surgeons, orthodontists, physical therapists, and chiropractors.