Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Knoxville and Maryville TN

There are more doctors and dentists diagnosing children and adults alike with Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) than ever before. Many people are unfamiliar with this diagnosis and are not sure what it means. It generally refers to a pattern of oral facial muscles that are interfering with development, function, and potentially appearance.

OMD is also referred to as tongue thrust, reverse swallow, or deviate swallow.

What do these terms mean? It can be very complicated to understand a diagnosis of OMD because everyone calls them different things. A tongue thrust, or reverse swallow are both representative of the same diagnosis. It refers to an irregular swallow where the tongue moves forward, or sideways in an exaggerated manner during swallowing. When the tongue is at rest, it is usually low and forward within the mouth.

At birth, babies usually reverse swallow as a way to protect their airways. By the age of five, most children develop more efficient patterns. However, if the child continues to use the reverse swallow method, it is possible that you child may have an OMD.

What are the signs of OMD?

Understanding the terms of OMD is very important and you may notice it on your child or on yourself. The signs can vary from person to person.

There are various unwanted oral habits including the following:

  • Teeth clenching
  • Lip biting
  • Thumb sucking
  • A person may also be a messy eater
  • The tongue may be visible at the front of the mouth when swallowing
  • The tongue may even rest on the bottom lip
  • Premature loss of teeth
  • Prolonged use of a bottle or sippy cup
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Allergies
  • Enlarged tonsils

OMDs are thought to be genetic. Therefore, if you or your partner have experience any symptoms associated with an OMD, it is more likely that you child may have one as well.

What is normal swallowing?

A normal swallow involves the teeth and lips being sealed in a firm and relaxed manner. The tongue tip presses on the roof of the mouth and the tongue will slope downward in order to push food into the throat. There is also a negative intra-oral pressure that forces the tongue into a wavelike motion when there is any kind of swallowing.

You may already notice that you do or do not have a normal swallow. If you have an atypical swallow, it may be time to talk to your Maryville dentist at Crestview Dental Care about myofunctional therapy.

What occurs with an OMD diagnosis?

It is important to note that you likely swallow around 1,500 times a day. The tongue can place anywhere between one and six pounds of pressure inside the mouth.

If the poor habits are allowed to continue, tongue thrusting or reverse swallow can lead to a variety of dental and health problems including:

  • Relapse of orthodontic treatments, such as braces
  • Speech problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Unpleasant eating habits and showing tongue while chewing
  • Soreness of the teeth and tongue
  • Temporomandibular joint problems
  • Allergies
  • Periodontal problems
  • Headaches

What can be done about the problem?

Once you learn that you have tongue thrust, reverse swallow, or OMD, regardless of what your dentist called it, there are things that you can do. First, it is important that you do not self-diagnose this problem. You will need to speak to a doctor or dentist about your concerns and let them perform a physical and potentially get x-rays in order to determine the overall development of your oral muscles.

Imagine getting braces for your child without correcting OMD. After the braces come off, if your child is continuing to swallow improperly, the teeth crowding or buckteeth could resume, meaning that you spend thousands of dollars for braces without getting the problem solved.

Myofunctional therapy is essentially a way of training your tongue, lips, and learning how to swallow all over again. A consultation can be scheduled so that you can learn more about the therapy and find out whether it is something that will benefit you. It can be very affordable and in some instances, insurance will cover at least some of the costs because it is considered preventative in nature.

Understanding OMD and the problems that it can cause will help you understand the importance of seeking help for the problem. If you continue to do nothing, the problems are only going to get worse over time. Your tongue has a considerable amount of muscle and as you move the muscles within your face incorrectly to speak, swallow, and do many other things, it is going to lead to various other problems. You may not notice the problem at first, but they will slowly start to build.

The good news is that many people who have gone through myofunctional therapy have been able to turn these problems around. The tongue thrusting stops, and the headaches, breathing problems, and other issues go away. The appearance of the face can change, and many people have actually sought myofunctional therapy as a way to receive a natural facelift.

Myofunctional Therapy in Maryville

To learn more about myofunctional therapy, please contact Crestview Dental Care by calling (865) 982-1700 to schedule a consultation. We welcome patients of Knoxville and Maryville, TN.