Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders in which the structures of the face and mouth are different from the recognised norm. These differences interfere with swallowing and speech as well as the appearance and growth of the face and mouth. The structures involved in OMDs may be dental, skeletal or muscular, including the lips and tongue. "Tongue thrust" is probably the most common OMD, in which the tongue lies too far forward during rest and moves forward in an exaggerated way during speech and swallowing.
Symptoms of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders"Tongue thrust" is probably the most common symptom of OMDs. Most children cease to have an exaggerated tongue thrust during swallowing when they are young, but this decreases and eventually goes away all together as they grow so that it does not affect swallowing and speech. Many children with OMDs may feel self-conscious about their appearance and the effect of tongue thrust on their swallowing and speech. Speech problems, such as an inability to produce "sh", "zh", "ch", "j", "t", "d" and"n" sounds are, common with OMDs though some children may not have noticeable speech problems. Weak muscles in the tongue and lips, stronger muscles in the chin and misalignment of teeth are also common symptoms of OMDs.
Consequences of Untreated Orofacial Myofunctional DisordersIn addition to continuing speech problems, misaligned teeth and abnormal appearance there are other consequences of untreated OMDs. Chronic sore throats, enlarged tonsils and upper respiratory problems can all accompany untreated OMDs. The use of orthodontic equipment, usually for longer than average, and trouble wearing dentures later in adulthood are also common to untreated OMDs. Lowered self-esteem and self-confidence may result as well.
Diagnosing Orofacial Myofunctional DisordersOrofacial Myofunctional Disorders affect dental, skeletal and muscular structures so it often requires a team of professionals to make a correct diagnosis. This team may include a dentist, orthodontist, doctor and speech therapist or pathologist. Examinations, observations and an investigation into certain behaviours (for example, thumb sucking or dummy sucking past a normal age) will all build a final diagnosis of an OMD.
Treating Orofacial Myofunctional DisordersThe professionals involved in diagnosing an OMD will be involved in treating an OMD, and referrals may be made as needed as well. Dentists and orthodontists will treat the effect of an OMD on the teeth, while a doctor will be able to treat other medical problems associated with an OMD, such as enlarged tonsils or allergies. The speech therapist or pathologist will be able to work with the individual to mitigate the effects of an OMD on speech, rest postures for the tongue and lips, and swallowing. The expected outcomes of such work will be different for each individual.
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, most commonly the "tongue thrust" affect dental, skeletal and muscular structures. Individuals with OMDs often experience swallowing and speech problems and there are a number of long-term consequences should an OMD go untreated. A team of professionals will work together to diagnosis and treat an OMD, including a speech therapist or pathologist to work on swallowing and speech. With the proper treatment, OMDs do not have to impact an individual's life for very long.