Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) entail the improper functioning of facial muscles and associated structures. These disorders can significantly impact various aspects of facial development and function, including chewing, swallowing, speech articulation, occlusion, oral hygiene, sleep quality, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial aesthetics, and overall physical and mental health.

The majority of OMDs stem from the adoption of improper breathing patterns by. Consequently, muscles and orofacial functions adapt to these disordered breathing habits, exacerbating the occurrence of OMDs.
Improper and dysfunctional breathing can adversely affect chewing and swallowing functions. Proper swallowing relies on the coordinated and balanced relationships of facial, oral, and throat muscles. Effective swallowing necessitates the synchronized functioning of muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks, and throat.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy assists patients in neurorehabilitation of these muscles to restore proper functionality and coordination. By doing so, patients can achieve optimal harmony and coordination among these muscles, facilitating improved overall orofacial function and increased quality of life.

According to a systematic review and meta-analysis by Camacho et al. (2015), myofunctional therapy has been shown to decrease Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) by approximately 50% in adults and 62% in children. Additionally, improvements in lowest oxygen saturation, snoring, and sleepiness outcomes were observed in adults. The study suggests that myofunctional therapy could be utilized as an adjunct to other treatments for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) (Camacho et al., 2015).

According to research, children with Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB), particularly Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), often exhibit symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) more frequently than those without SDB symptoms (Halbower & Mahone, 2006).

  • Mouth breathing
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ or TMD)
  • Open mouth posture
  • Tongue tie (ankyloglossia)
  • Tongue thrusting during swallowing
  • Teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Nail biting, thumb sucking, and other oral noxious habits
  • Facial tension or pain
  • Sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and sleep apnea
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Anxiety

Thorough Assessment: We conduct comprehensive evaluations to assess oral muscle function, swallowing patterns, sensory processing, and motor coordination. By identifying areas of dysfunction, we develop individualized treatment plans to address specific concerns and goals.

Evidence-Based Intervention: Our interventions are grounded in evidence-based techniques and exercises designed to improve oral muscle strength, coordination, and function. These may include exercises to retrain swallowing patterns, promote proper tongue posture, and address oral habits such as thumb sucking or nail biting.

Holistic Approach: We take a holistic view of OMT, recognizing the interconnectedness of sensory, motor, and psychosocial factors in oral function. By addressing underlying sensory processing challenges and promoting overall well-being, we aim to support optimal oral health and functional communication.

Collaborative Care: We collaborate closely with other healthcare professionals, including dentists, speech therapists, and ENT specialists, to ensure coordinated care and comprehensive treatment for individuals with OMDs. This multidisciplinary approach allows for a more holistic and effective intervention, addressing OMDs from all angles.

Prevention and Intervention: By addressing OMDs early and effectively, we can prevent potential complications and promote healthy orofacial development from infancy through adulthood. Our lifespan perspective ensures that individuals receive support tailored to their unique needs and developmental stages.

Sensory-Motor Integration: Orofacial function involves complex sensory-motor coordination, including sensory input from the mouth and feedback to the brain to control movement and function. As occupational therapists, we excel in addressing sensory-motor integration challenges, allowing for more effective OMT interventions tailored to individual sensory preferences and motor abilities.

By receiving Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy from an occupational therapist, clients benefit from a holistic, client-centered approach that emphasizes functional outcomes, sensory-motor integration, and collaborative care.

Contact us today to learn more about our Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy services and schedule a consultation.

Reference: Camacho, M., Certal, V., Abdullatif, J., Zaghi, S., Ruoff, C. M., & Capasso, R. (2015). Myofunctional therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep, 38(5), 669–675. https://doi.org/10.5665/sleep.4662

Reference: Halbower, A.C., & Mahone, M. (2006). Neuropsychological Morbidity Linked to Childhood Sleep-Disordered Breathing. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 10, 97–107. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2005.10.002