A Surprising Connection Between Behavior Disorders and Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder

If you’re considering orthodontic treatment to achieve the beautiful and healthy smile you’ve always wanted, you may have come across information about orofacial myofunctional therapy.

And while you may be tempted to write off this treatment because you think it’s only for pediatric patients, don’t. Orofacial myofunctional therapy can benefit you as an adult, too! Thousands of adults undergo this treatment as part of their orthodontic plan or as a standalone therapy to overcome an orofacial myofunctional disorder.

What Are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) are negative patterns or behaviors involving oral and orofacial muscles. These behaviors can interfere with normal facial growth and interfere with the mouth and tongue’s development or function.

OMDs can be found in children, adolescents and adults.

Some examples of OMDs include:

  • Thumb and finger sucking
  • A routine habit of resting with the lips apart
  • Mouth breathing
  • A forward resting posture of the tongue between or against the teeth
  • Forward head posture
  • Tongue thrust
  • Speech delay or speech articulation issues

Some of these things may make you feel self-conscious or embarrassed and may have been something you struggled with your whole life into adulthood.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of OMDs?

It’s essential to keep in mind that having one or two of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you have an OMD, but you should be evaluated to make sure. Some other signs include:

  • You always breathe through your mouth or have difficulty breathing through your nose
  • Your tongue is restricted from moving easily
  • Eating is messy or difficult, or you have difficulty swallowing
  • You have an overbite, underbite or other type of jaw development issue
  • Your tongue pushes past your teeth, even when you are not talking or using your tongue
  • You struggle with some letter combinations, including “sh,” “s” or “j” sounds
  • You have difficulty closing your lips when swallowing

If you’re living with an OMD, you can get treated at any age with myofunctional therapy. And we recommend that you get treated, because OMDs have several serious health consequences that can develop related to your mouth, face and overall health.

This is where we come in! We can help treat you for an OMD using myofunctional therapy to restore correct function, which will allow you to be healthy and breathe easier (literally!).

Why Start Now? 

Why not? The sooner you correct myofunctional impairment, the sooner your health will benefit. Think about it — if your doctor recommended that you start exercising to improve your overall health so you can live a long life, wouldn’t you want to start sooner rather than later to live the best life possible?

The same goes for treating OMDs.

Many older patients who begin myofunctional therapy with us wish they had started sooner to correct their issue after learning about it.

Another good reason to start now is that your muscle tone begins to diminish as you age. This also goes for your oral tone. Yes, that’s right, even your mouth can be affected by the aging process.

So, if you’ve struggled with swallowing food your whole life, it will actually get worse as you get older without interventions like myofunctional therapy!

Four Ways Myofunctional Therapy Can Benefit Adults 

Not convinced? Here are a few reasons why myofunctional therapy can benefit adults.

  1. It’s convenient. Myofunctional therapy is minimally invasive, can be performed in just a few minutes, and can be done where and when you like, including while watching TV, sitting in a meeting or in the pickup line at school.
  2. It improves and/or shortens the length of your orthodontic treatment. Do you want to straighten your teeth? Many adults undergoing orthodontic treatment see a shorter time in braces, and some adults can avoid braces entirely with the assistance of myofunctional therapy.
  3. It can help treat sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that affects more than 20 million Americans. It is a severe medical condition that leads to an elevated risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression. Myofunctional therapy helps treat sleep apnea by strengthening the mouth, tongue and neck muscles, preventing soft tissue collapses that occur during sleep and block airflow.
  4. It can improve your looks. Yes, myofunctional therapy can enhance your appearance! This is because chronic mouth breathing can change your looks, causing your dental arches to narrow and your facial structure to be elongated. Myofunctional therapy can address the root cause of mouth breathing by facilitating good oral rest posture (lips closed, teeth closed and the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth), reducing nasal breathing and reshaping your face over time.

Want to learn more about how myofunctional therapy can benefit you? Call us today to schedule an appointment.