In the general population 30‐40% of individuals have an orofacial myofunctional disorder
In a study of kindergarten through 6th graders‐ 77% of those with a lisp, also had an abnormal tongue resting posture. And 50% of those also were tongue thrusting (pushing the tongue forward instead of upward when swallowing)
60% of malocclusion (crocked teeth) is caused by prolonged digit sucking
10% of 6–11-year-olds still suck a thumb or finger
85% of digit suckers exhibit an open bite (when the front teeth don’t touch)
Open bites many times lead to TMD due to lateral shifting of the jaw to chew
40% of digit suckers have learning and behavior problems in school
The tongue’s resting position can impact everything from chewing and swallowing to the way you look and speak. Fortunately, you can correct an abnormal tongue position with myofunctional therapy. This specialized training can improve your oral health and enhance your smile.
Myofunctional therapy uses a combination of physical therapy exercises to improve the bite, breathing, and facial posture of those with orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). The training targets the face, neck, and mouth’s soft tissues to reach optimal tongue position and oral rest posture. OMDs can affect people of all ages, and treatment is customized based on your age and symptoms.
Myofunctional therapy re-educates the orofacial system, helping to normalize function and resting oral posture.
Signs of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
An orofacial myofunctional disorder occurs when an abnormal lip, jaw, or tongue position interferes with your orofacial structures’ development and function. OMDs can negatively impact breastfeeding, chewing, swallowing, and talking. They also affect your jaw movement, oral hygiene, and the way your face looks. Common causes of OMDs include:
Upper airway obstruction. Enlarged tonsils, a deviated septum, or allergies could all restrict the nasal airway. When nasal breathing is obstructed, your body adapts by mouth-breathing, which can change the natural position of your jaw, tongue, and lips long-term.
Chronic thumb-sucking or extended pacifier or bottle use. These habits can put pressure on the teeth, moving them out of alignment and causing malocclusion. It can also change the tongue’s rest position and swallowing patterns.
Orofacial muscular and structural differences. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), these differences could include delayed neuromotor development, premature loss of maxillary incisors that encourages tongue thrusting, orofacial anomalies, and ankyloglossia.
You or your child could exhibit one or more of these symptoms as part of your OMD. Typically, you will need to treat the cause of your OMD or seek myofunctional therapy for swallowing problems before symptoms like malocclusion or speech deficits are addressed.
How Do Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Impact Oral Health?
Not only can OMDs contribute to malocclusions like overbite, overjet, and underbite, but they can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Abnormal lip, tongue and jaw position can impact regular tongue.
Your myofunctional therapist will create an individualized program to retrain your orofacial muscles and improve function. Some goals of your training might include normalizing the resting posture for your tongue and lips, establishing nasal breathing patterns, or eliminating harmful habits like thumb-sucking.
As you retrain these patterns, your myofunctional therapist will help you increase awareness of your mouth and facial muscles. The therapist will most likely give you exercises to complete at home to focus on ideal swallowing, breathing, and resting patterns. Practicing these positions and movements will increase your muscle strength and coordination.
Eventually, myofunctional therapy should improve your OMD symptoms — from speaking more clearly to eating more efficiently and sleeping more soundly. You might also enjoy some cosmetic changes in your face and smile. With a diagnosis from your dental professional and help from a myofunctional therapist, you can treat your orofacial myofunctional disorder, correct your mouth’s alignment, and get your smile back on track.
ARE Myofunctional Therapy RIGHT FOR YOU?
If you believe a Myofunctional Therapy could benefit you, contact our team today to book an appointment. We’re ready to walk you through the process and find a fitting solution to any oral health problems you have.
The tongue is a remarkable muscle with a crucial role in various aspects of our lives, from speech and swallowing to dental health. Surprisingly, it reaches its adult size by the age of 8, and its proper functioning is essential for overall orofacial health. However, many individuals suffer from orofacial myofunctional disorders, which can have a significant impact on their lives. In this article, we will explore the fascinating world of the tongue and delve into the statistics surrounding orofacial myofunctional disorders. We’ll discuss how these disorders affect speech, dental health, and even learning. The Tongue’s Remarkable Growth One of the most surprising facts about the tongue is that it reaches its adult size by the age of 8. This may be unexpected, as we often think of the tongue as something that continues to grow throughout our lives. In reality, the tongue grows rapidly during childhood and reaches its full size relatively early in our development. Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders: A Common Challenge Orofacial myofunctional disorders are more prevalent than one might think. These disorders involve abnormal patterns of muscle activity in the face and mouth, which can lead to a range of problems. Statistics indicate that in the general population, 30-40% of individuals have some form of orofacial myofunctional disorder. This is a significant percentage and highlights the importance of addressing these disorders. Speech and Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Orofacial myofunctional disorders can have a profound impact on speech. In a study of kindergarten through 6th graders, it was found that 77% of those with a lisp also had an abnormal tongue resting posture. A lisp is a speech disorder characterized by the incorrect pronunciation of the “s” and “z” sounds, often attributed to the misplacement of the tongue during speech. Additionally, 50% of those with a lisp were also tongue thrusting, which means they push their tongue forward instead of upward when swallowing. This improper swallowing pattern can further affect speech, making it difficult to pronounce certain sounds and words. Dental Health and Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Beyond speech, orofacial myofunctional disorders can also impact dental health. A significant finding is that 60% of malocclusions (misalignment of teeth, commonly referred to as crooked teeth) are caused by prolonged digit sucking. This habit can exert pressure on the teeth and lead to misalignment, which can have long-term consequences for dental health. Even more surprisingly, 10% of children aged 6-11 still suck their thumb or fingers. This seemingly innocent habit can result in severe dental problems if not addressed early. A common issue among digit suckers is the development of an open bite, where the front teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. An open bite can affect not only the appearance of one’s smile but also the function of the jaw. Open bites can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). TMD is a condition that affects the jaw and can cause discomfort and pain. When the front teeth don’t come into proper contact, the jaw may shift laterally when chewing, which can contribute to the development of TMD. Learning and Behavior Problems in School Another crucial aspect of orofacial myofunctional disorders is their impact on learning and behavior in school. Research indicates that 40% of digit suckers experience learning and behavior problems in school. These issues can range from difficulty concentrating and following instructions to social challenges due to speech or dental problems. It’s important to recognize that orofacial myofunctional disorders can have far-reaching effects on a child’s life, not just in terms of their physical health but also their academic and social development. This highlights the importance of early intervention and treatment. Conclusion The tongue’s development and its role in our daily lives are truly fascinating. However, the prevalence of orofacial myofunctional disorders, as evidenced by the statistics mentioned, underscores the need for awareness and early intervention. These disorders can impact speech, dental health, and even a child’s learning and behavior in school. Recognizing the signs and seeking appropriate treatment can make a significant difference in improving the quality of life for individuals affected by these disorders. The tongue’s journey from childhood to adulthood is just one part of the intricate puzzle of our orofacial health, and understanding its role can lead to better overall well-being. .The human tongue, often underestimated in its significance, is a remarkable muscle that plays a vital role in several essential functions such as speech and swallowing. What may come as a surprise to many is the fact that the tongue attains its adult size by the age of 8. Furthermore, the prevalence of orofacial myofunctional disorders is a significant concern in our society. These disorders involve irregular patterns of muscle activity in the face and mouth, resulting in a range of problems that affect speech, dental health, and even learning. In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve deeper into these aspects, shedding light on the intricate relationship between the tongue and orofacial myofunctional disorders, while providing a wealth of information on their impact. The Astonishing Growth of the Tongue One of the most intriguing facts about the human tongue is its rate of growth. It is surprising to note that the tongue reaches its adult size by the tender age of 8. Contrary to the common belief that the tongue continues to grow throughout one’s life, it experiences rapid development during childhood and then maintains a relatively stable size throughout adulthood. Understanding Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Orofacial myofunctional disorders are more widespread than one might assume, affecting a considerable portion of the population. These disorders encompass irregular muscle activity patterns in the face and mouth, leading to various issues. Statistical data reveals that in the general population, roughly 30-40% of individuals grapple with some form of orofacial myofunctional disorder. This staggering figure underscores the pressing need to address these disorders. The Tongue’s Role in Speech and Its Impact on Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Orofacial myofunctional disorders are known to exert a profound influence on speech. An enlightening study conducted among kindergarten through 6th graders highlights the interconnectedness of these factors. It was found that a substantial 77% of those with a lisp, a common speech disorder involving the incorrect pronunciation of “s” and “z” sounds, also exhibited an abnormal tongue resting posture. Furthermore, 50% of individuals with lisps were found to engage in tongue thrusting, a pattern where the tongue pushes forward instead of upward during swallowing. This abnormal swallowing pattern can further complicate speech, making it arduous to pronounce specific sounds and words. Dental Health Conundrums Arising from Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders The impact of orofacial myofunctional disorders extends beyond speech to dental health, posing a considerable challenge. A startling revelation is that an impressive 60% of malocclusions, which are characterized by teeth misalignment or crooked teeth, can be attributed to prolonged digit sucking. The habit of sucking on fingers or thumbs, if not addressed, can exert substantial pressure on the teeth, resulting in their misalignment. The long-term repercussions for dental health are significant. Additionally, it is intriguing to note that 10% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 still engage in thumb or finger sucking. While this behavior may seem innocuous, it can lead to severe dental issues if not addressed in a timely manner. Digit suckers often develop an open bite, a condition where the front teeth do not come into contact when the mouth is closed. Apart from affecting the aesthetics of one’s smile, an open bite can also interfere with proper jaw function. Open bites frequently lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), a condition that affects the jaw and can cause discomfort and pain. When the front teeth do not make proper contact, the jaw may shift laterally during the act of chewing, which can contribute to the development of TMD. The Impact on Learning and Behavior in Educational Settings Another critical dimension of orofacial myofunctional disorders is their influence on learning and behavior in the context of education. Research reveals that a significant 40% of digit suckers encounter learning and behavior problems in school. These issues encompass difficulties in concentration, following instructions, and social challenges stemming from speech or dental problems. The repercussions of these disorders extend beyond physical health, affecting a child’s academic and social development.