Orofacial Myology

Myofunctional Therapy

During therapy, you’ll work through a carefully structured program, with each session progressively building on the one before it. The program starts with improving oral and facial muscle strength, and then works through swallowing, eating, speech, tongue-tie or sleep apnea exercises, depending on your symptoms.

It’s important to note that at home participation is crucial to the success of any exercise-based therapy program. If you don’t practice consistently at home, you won’t experience the full benefits of the program.

More about Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. OMDs may affect, directly and/or indirectly, breastfeeding, facial skeletal growth and development, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and more.

Most OMDs originate with insufficient habitual nasal breathing or with mouth breathing . The subsequent adaptation of the muscles and the orofacial functions to a disordered breathing pattern creates many OMDs. These disorders may impact treatments by orthodontists, dentists, dental hygienists, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals working in the OMD area.

Some Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) can be, but are not limited to;

Jaw Pain

Cross Bite

Nail Biting

Cheek Biting

Dry crusty lips

Thumb/finger/tongue sucking

Mouth breathing


Picky/messy eating

Bed wetting

Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, mouth and throat. The act of swallowing is one function that depends on the body’s vital balance. To swallow properly, muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks and throat must work together in harmony. When a person swallows normally, the tip of the tongue presses firmly against the roof of the mouth or hard palate, located slightly behind the front teeth. The tongue acts in concert with all the other muscles involved in swallowing. The hard palate, meanwhile, absorbs the force created by the tongue.

ecause a person swallows 500-1000 times a day, improper swallowing can cause a variety of problems. But it is actually the resting position of the tongue that does the most damage because it is more constant.


Mouth breathing can completely alter how your child looks which is the skeletal development of a child, and completely disrupts airway development which affects the amount of oxygen the body requires for proper function. We know that mouth breathing affects the resting position of the facial and tongue muscles. Often mouth breathers experience a wide variety of signs and symptoms from early development to later in life consequences. Sadly, failure to nasal breathe affects your overall health. Mouth breathing affects the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide that are in the body. Our bodies rely on a specific amount of incoming oxygen and outgoing carbon dioxide to remain in a healthy state. Mouth breathing can make the lips and mouth dry for loss of humidity. The nasal passage warms, filters, and humidifies air. Mouth breathing bypasses nasal breathing. Cold, unfiltered air can predispose one to dry mouth, cough, frequent colds and affect dental health and maxillofacial development.

Dental Problems related to an OMD

When a person swallows incorrectly, the tip and/or sides of the tongue press against or spread between the teeth. This is commonly called a tongue thrust. Constant pressure from resting or incorrectly thrusting the tongue away from the hard palate may push teeth out of place. That pressure may later prevent teeth from erupting (breaking through the gum).

An OMD may lead to an abnormal bite – the improper alignment between the upper and lower teeth known as malocclusion. This problem may lead to difficulties in biting, chewing, swallowing, and digesting of food.

Tongue thrust is the act of pushing the tongue against or between the teeth when swallowing.

The constant pressure of the tongue against or between the teeth will not allow the teeth to bite together. This is known as an open bite.

An improper alignment or malocclusion between the upper and lower teeth can lead to difficulties in biting and chewing food.

Cosmetic Problems related to an OMD

Often the most obvious symptom of incorrect oral posture involves the muscles of the face. A dull, sluggish appearance and full, weak lips develop when muscles aren’t operating normally.

Constantly parted lips (with or without mouth breathing) also signal this disorder. A person swallowing incorrectly will often purse and tighten the muscles of the cheeks, chin and lips – a symptom known as a facial grimace. This can give the chin a knobby appearance because these muscles are being overused.

The face can have a dull sluggish appearance when the muscles are not in proper balance.

An incorrect swallow will purse and tighten the muscles of the cheeks, chin, and lips, causing a facial grimace

Mouth breathing or constantly open lips is a cause and/or sign of a tongue thrust and poor low tongue posture.

Speech Problems that may develop from an OMD

A person with abnormal oral muscle patterns may suffer from a lisp or have difficulty in articulating sounds. If muscles in the tongue and lips are incorrectly postured, this can prevent a person from forming sounds of normal speech.

Improper oral muscle function may additionally lead to TMJ dysfunction, headaches, stomach distress (from swallowing air), airway obstruction, and other health challenges.

Sleep Disordered Breathing and Mild to Moderate OSA

Recent research has shown that an Orofacial Myology program may reduce the symptoms of sleep disordered breathing (such as snoring), and ameliorate mild to moderate OSA (obstructive sleep apnea). When functioning and used properly, the muscles of the tongue, throat, and face, can reduce obstruction to the airway.

Orofacial Myology eliminates many of the causes of swallowing abnormalities and improper rest posture of the tongue.

An Orofacial Myology program is painless and the exercises are relatively simple. When certain muscles of the face are activated and functioning properly, other muscles will follow suit until proper coordination of the tongue and facial muscles is attained.

For success in this program, consistent exercise every day is necessary until the patient has corrected their improper muscle pattern. It also takes commitment by the patient, family – and time.

Treatment usually consists of a regular program of exercises over a 6 – 12 month period, although treatment length may vary.

Multi-Disciplinary Approach

A properly trained myofunctional therapist is one member of the team that will successfully treat an OMD. Other allied professionals such as dentists, orthodontists, and osteopaths can ensure that the patient’s needs are addressed and handled appropriately. We feel that the patient needs to be looked at from a variety of approaches in order to be successful in treatment.

Positive Impact: With an Orofacial Myology program, a patient can regain the joy of eating, speaking, breathing, and even sleeping more soundly. Cosmetic improvements can help restore confidence and self-esteem. We believe that everyone deserves to be educated about myofuncitonal disorders and treated if they suffer from OMDs. We endeavor to increase awareness of Orofacial Myology amongst the medical, dental, and academic communities to support the acceptance and progress of this profession world-wide.