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What is Myofunctional Therapy?

what is Myofunctional therapy?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) are abnormal movement patterns of the face and mouth. Speech-language pathologists with training in this area can help.

About Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Children, teenagers, and adults may suffer from OMDs. OMDS may interfere with normal growth and development of the muscles and bones of the face and mouth. OMDs may also interfere with how the muscles of the face and mouth are used for eating, talking, and breathing. People who have an OMD may also have problems with talking, swallowing, and breathing through their nose. Some people push out their tongue when they talk, drink, or eat. This is called tongue thrusting or fronting, and it is one type of OMD.

Signs and Symptoms

Just because a person has some or all of these symptoms does not mean that they have an OMD. An SLP can evaluate the individual to determine if an OMD exists. Some signs of an OMD may include the following:

  • Someone who always breathes through the mouth or has difficulty breathing through the nose.

  • Limited tongue movement. Eating may be messy or difficult. Keep in mind that it is normal for babies to stick their

  • tongue out and push food out of their mouth. Over time, they do this less.

  • An overbite, underbite, and/or other dental problems. The tongue pushing past the teeth, even when a person is not talking or using the tongue.

  • Difficulty saying some sounds accurately, like “s” in sun, “sh” in ship, or “j” in jump.

  • Drooling, especially beyond age 2.

  • Difficulty closing the lips to swallow.

Causes

There is not a known, single cause of OMDs. OMDs may be caused by several factors:

  • Blocked nasal passages because of tonsil size or allergies. When the nasal passages are blocked, people may need to breathe through their mouth instead.

  • Anything that causes the tongue to be misplaced at rest or makes it difficult to keep the lips together at rest.

  • Sucking and chewing habits past the age of 3 years.

Seeing a Professional

Testing for an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)

You may see a few professionals to find out if you or your child has an OMD. These professionals may include:

Your dentist and orthodontist will look at your or your child’s teeth and how the jaw moves. Doctors can test for allergies and check for interference of tonsils and adenoids. SLPs test speech and look at how the individual eats, drinks, and breathes.

Speech-Language Pathology Treatment for Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

After breathing problems are medically evaluated and treated, SLPs can help your child do the following:

  • Pay closer attention to their mouth and facial movements.

  • Know where their tongue and mouth muscles are when they speak, drink, eat, and rest.

  • Say sounds more clearly.

  • Change how they chew and swallow.

  • Practice different breathing patterns

Feel free to contact us with any questions using our contact form or by calling us at (902) 406-7200.


Our Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Team

MEGAN MACLEOD, M. SC RSLP (C)

Megan received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Dalhousie University and is certified by SAC (Speech-Language and Audiology Canada). Her clinical experience includes serving children and adults with various speech and/or language disorders across both public and private service settings. read more >