Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) treat the oral structures of the mouth (lips, tongue, jaw, cheeks, and palate) and their impact on swallowing skills and oral rest posture.

OMT is based on the neuromuscular re-education or re-training of the oral and facial muscles and includes facial exercises and behavior modification techniques to promote proper tongue position, improved breathing, chewing, and swallowing.  Incorrect chewing and swallowing and/or incorrect tongue position may have a negative effect on your child’s:

  • Teeth alignment and dental development
  • Ability to sleep effectively
  • Ability to breathe effectively
  • Behavior
  • Feeding skills such as the ability to move food around in the mouth
  • Development of oral muscles and facial muscles
  • Speech skills
  • Oral hygiene (bad breath, cavities)
  • Social interactions (open mouth breathing, tongue out of the mouth, drooling)

Common signs of an orofacial myofunctional disorder include:

  • Difficulty breathing through the nose due to allergies, enlarged tonsils, or enlarged adenoids
  • Tongue-tie
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • The narrow roof of the mouth (palate)
  • Forward tongue movement during speech and/or swallowing

Additional issues that may contribute to an orofacial myofunctional disorder include:

  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Prolonged thumb, finger or tongue sucking

Addressing these issues as early as possible is key. Tongue ties are a popular term and sometimes go undetected especially if you are not seeing a dentist unless there is a concern.  If an infant is born with a tongue tie, they may have difficulty latching or sucking. As a child gets older it may affect breathing, speech, and the ability to sweep and clean the mouth of residual food against the back teeth.

Your dentist or orthodontist may identify these signs during a routine office visit and may recommend an orofacial myofunctional evaluation.

OMT specialists are trained in the evaluation and treatment of swallowing and orofacial myofunctional disorders.

Wat to Expect at an Evaluation?

During the evaluation, your OMT specialists will assess the strength and movement of your child’s lips, tongue, jaw, cheeks, and palate. In addition, they will evaluate your child’s ability to chew food, move food around in their mouth, and swallow food and liquids. They may also evaluate your child’s speech skills if needed. You may bring your own food and drink, or food can be provided.

Pictures and videos of your child will be taken as part of the evaluation as a baseline of their oral structure and skills. Pictures and videos are kept private and confidential.

Here are some questions you might be asked at the evaluation:

  • Does your child snore?
  • Is your child a picky, messy, slow, or fast eater? Do they avoid certain foods?
  • Does eating seem like a lot of work for your child?
  • Does your child have any behaviors during mealtimes?
  • Is your child self-conscious about their eating or speech?
  • Have you seen an orthodontist?
  • Does your child have an open mouth while eating?
  • Is your child’s mouth open often during the day?

After the evaluation is completed, the OMT specialist will analyze and review all the testing results and discuss the results with you. The evaluation will determine if there is a need for therapy and if any other referrals are needed. The picture attached is of a man who is tongue-tied and has a cheek chewing habit. Noticing these habits early in life and treating saves a lifetime of pain, money, and embarrassment.

If you have any questions or would like an evaluation, please contact me for a free 15-minute consultation with the link in on the home page of this site.

 

Resources:

https://www.iaom.com/

https://aomtinfo.org/myofunctional-therapy/

https://www.luriechildrens.org/en/specialties-conditions/orofacial-myofunctional-therapy-program/