Myofunctional Therapy

side illustration of a person's jaw

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is an interdisciplinary practice that works with the muscles of the lips, tongue, cheeks and face and their related functions (such as breathing, sucking, chewing, swallowing, and some aspects of speech). It acts in the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of people who may have these functions compromised or altered. It can also act in improving facial aesthetics. In this area, the Specialist in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy can work in partnership with other professionals such as dentists, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, nurses and psychologists. As an emerging field, questions are quite common when we talk about Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy.

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) addresses the oral structures (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-patterning 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 adults and children such as:

  • Dental alignment and dental development
  • Ability to sleep effectively
  • Ability to breathe effectively
  • For children: feeding skills such as ability to move food around in the mouth
  • Development of oral muscles and facial muscles
  • Speech skills
  • For children: social interactions (open mouth breathing, tongue out of mouth, drooling)

Common signs of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder

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

Additional habits that may contribute to an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder in children are:

  • Prolonged pacifier use
  • Thumb and/or finger sucking
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Abnormal Swallowing

Common Symptoms of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

  • Neck, jaw, or facial pain
  • Orthodontic relapse
  • Speech problems
  • Mild to moderate sleep apnea
  • Mouth breathing
  • Snoring or chronic congestion
  • Poor lip posture
  • Frequent choking, gagging or trouble swallowing
  • Tongue thrusting
  • Chronic allergies
  • Frequent headaches
  • TMJ problems
  • Malocclusion