What Are Oral Myofunctional Disorders?
An oral myofunctional disorder (OMD) is a condition that affects how the facial and mouth muscles work together to allow a person to speak clearly, swallow correctly, breathe properly, and more.
Some examples of how an OMD may affect you include:
- Tongue thrust, a disorder in which the tongue rests too far forward in the mouth, can lead to orthodontic problems and improper swallowing. This condition is most common in children but can also affect adults.
- Mouth breathing can affect dry out your oral cavity and lead to an increased risk of cavities and other dental problems. The nose acts as our filtration system for our airway and increases the level of nitric oxide throughout our bodies increasing our circulation. When we mouth breathe, we remove the natural filter our bodies need.
- Problems with swallowing can make it difficult for you to enjoy meals. When our swallow function is affected, we are more prone to choking on our food and drinks. Improper swallowing may even cause you to swallow more air than you should, which can result in stomach issues.
- A weak tongue can overrelax at night and block the airway, contributing to sleep apnea in Bullard and surrounding areas. If OSA becomes severe enough, it can lead to excessive daytime fatigue, mood problems, and even serious health issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- OMDs can affect your speech, resulting in a lisp or other problems with articulating sounds. They may also result in temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), which often leads to severe jaw pain, headaches, and other serious symptoms.
What Causes OMDs?
There are a number of possible causes behind OMDs.
Sometimes, children are born with an anatomical defect that causes an OMD. For example, some children are born with tongue tie, a condition wherein the frenulum (the piece of tissue that attaches the bottom of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth) is too short or thick. Tongue tie can cause mouth breathing and improper tongue resting position. Along with a minimally invasive surgery, OMT can retrain a patient’s tongue and help them learn how to breathe through their nose.
In other cases, OMDs develop later in life. A jaw injury, worsening occlusion (the way a bite fits together), and other factors may cause adults to develop an OMD.
Certain habits, both in children and adults, can also contribute to OMDs. Habits like pencil chewing, thumb-sucking, poor posture, leaning on the chin, bruxism (teeth grinding), and hair chewing can all cause problems with the way the orofacial structures function together.