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What is Orofacial Myology?

Orofacial Myology is the field of study dedicated to the treatment of any atypical patterns of the oral and facial muscles that interfere with normal growth, development and function.  These atypical patterns of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth are called Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs).


What are some causes of OMDs?

It is often difficult to isolate a single source as the cause of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder.  In most cases it is the result of a combination of factors. Many experts suggest that OMDs may develop as a result of the following:

  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum, and/or allergies

  • Improper oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking, cheek/nail/cuticle biting, and teeth clenching/grinding

  • Extended use of a pacifier and/or long-term use of sippy cups

  • Structural or physiological abnormalities which may include a short lingual frenum (tongue-tie)

  • Neurological deficits or developmental delays

  • Hereditary predisposition


The most commonly noted etiology of an OMD is a lack of nasal breathing.  When nasal breathing is impeded, the body naturally accommodates by relying on mouth breathing.  Long-term mouth breathing changes the natural resting posture of the jaw, tongue and lips. This change in position can influence growth patterns of the jaw and maxilla and often results in the development of a significant malocclusion.  Furthermore, long term mouth breathing compromises the natural process of breathing which relies on the nasal airway to cleanse and purify the air for the pulmonary system.


What are the consequences of OMDs?

OMDs interrupt normal movement patterns.  Failure to address an OMD can result in:

  • Long term mouth-breathing patterns that compromise overall healthy breathing

  • Establishment of detrimental oral habits that impede optimal growth and development

  • Establishment of atypical patterns that impact chewing and swallowing

  • Improper development/alignment of the teeth

  • Slowing the process of orthodontic treatment or undermining the long-term stability of orthodontic treatment resulting in relapse

  • Negatively impacting the stability and function of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

  • Speech distortions

  • Negatively affecting social relationships due to open mouth postures or noisy/messy eating habits

  • Improper tongue position has also been associated with some sleep disordered breathing patterns


What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)?

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (also known as Myofunctional Therapy) is a highly effective, painless way to improve the strength and function of the oral and facial muscles and stop habits that negatively affect appearance and health.  It is an individualized program of exercises that retrains the muscles of the face and tongue to to optimize complex functions such as breathing, swallowing, chewing and speaking, and promote ideal growth of the face, jaws and teeth.


How effective is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?

There are many factors that contribute to the success of therapy.  Effective communication and collaboration between the therapist and the dental and medical community is essential.  In addition, the patient’s desire, dedicated cooperation and self-discipline are necessary, as is support from others.  As with learning any new skill, commitment to practice and the ability to self-monitor outside of practice time are important.  To ensure optimum results with children undergoing therapy, parental involvement and encouragement is key.


Who could benefit from working with an Orofacial Myologist?

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy can improve the lives of children and adults.  Consulting with an Orofacial Myologist may be beneficial for anyone who:

  • Snores, is a restless sleeper, wakes tired, or has daytime fatigue or distractibility

  • Suffers from jaw pain, headaches, or neck pain

  • Has recurrent ear infections, tonsillitis, or allergies

  • Wants to eliminate thumb sucking or other negative oral habits

  • Has persistent speech problems

  • Has difficulty swallowing pills or foods of various textures

  • Is a slow, messy, or picky eater, has a poor appetite or poor digestion

  • Would like better teeth and/or jaw alignment

  • Wants to stabilize orthodontic treatment and prevent relapse

  • Desires better oral and overall health


Can Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy be done in conjunction with other therapies or treatments?

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is ideally suited to being part of a multi-disciplinary approach to health.  Treatment may involve collaboration with a variety of medical and dental specialists, as well as other health professionals.


Existing clients, please email Valerie at to book your appointment

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