Many things impact the development and function of our craniofacial structures (head, face and mouth).
These influences come from our genetics, developmental abnormalities, how we use these structures, any habits we form, the size and shape of each part of the craniofacial complex and how these structures affect each other.
Each of these things can create either healthy development form and function or dysfunctional development form and function (Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders).
What can Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders do to us?
- Crowded misaligned teeth.
- Incorrect jaw position and size.
- A narrow and misshaped (vaulted) palate.
- Can create an open bite, where the upper and lower teeth don't meet together.
- Can cause a cross bite, where the lower teeth are positioned in front of the upper teeth.
- Can be detrimental to the jaw joint, causing potential pain and wear.
- Increase the prevalence of tooth decay.
- Incorrect tongue posture.
- An abnormal tongue thrust swallow.
- Destructive chewing habits.
- Chronic mouth breathing.
- Grinding and clenching of the teeth, which can lead to broken, misshaped, and potentially painful teeth.
- Problems with speech.
- Social and self-esteem issues.
- The appearance of the face and lips can become asymmetrical.
- Swollen and inflamed tonsils and adenoids.
- Restricted airways.
- Sleep disordered breathing, including Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
- Impacting the quality of our sleep, which can create problems with concentration, moods, hyperactivity or drossiness.
- General posture issues.
- Have a negative impact on our general and mental health.
The following is a list of issues that have the potential to create Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders:
- Anything that enters the mouth after birth will affect how the structures within the mouth are shaped and how they function together. For example, bottles, nipples, dummies and sippy cups.
- The texture of the food we eat. Soft foods do not require much chewing, whereas harder foods will encourage chewing. The more you use your craniofacial structures, the better they will develop.
- Any noxious oral habits. For example, thumb or finger sucking, chewing on clothing or blankets, chewing or sucking on the lips and cheeks, nail biting, hair chewing, chewing on pens and other objects.
- Mouth breathing. We are designed to breathe through our nose. The nose warms, humidifies and filters the air before it reaches our lungs. This has many benefits, such as, removing potentially harmful bacteria and mixing the air with Nitric Oxide, which helps your body to absorb oxygen more efficiently. The mouth is simply a backup system when the nose fails to do its job. Chronic mouth breathing has an extremely negative impact on our health.
- Any structures that restrict your airway such as the position of the tongue at rest, large tonsils or adenoids and polyps. The size and position of the upper and lower jaws can also have an impact on the airways. Retracted and narrow jaws can contribute to compression of the airway tube.
- Chronic sinus infections and allergies reduce the ability to breathe through the nose.
- Tethered oral tissues include tongue & lip ties. This can create big problems during breastfeeding. It can also impact how the tongue functions over your lifetime. Tongues are designed to rest at the top of your mouth, touching the palate just behind your upper front teeth. If the tongue's movement is restricted by a tight frenum (cord) it can impact the tongues posture, and the way that you swallow and speak. Lip ties can create a gap between the front teeth, collect food debris and restrict the upper lips movements.
- Any health conditions that impact the facial nerves and muscles which can include stroke, facial trauma, Bell's Palsy, Cerebral Palsy.
What can be done to get things back on track?
Orofacial Myology is the treatment of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders through the use of specific exercises and techniques to train the muscles of the face and mouth to function in the most ideal way. By strengthening these muscles and improving their position, we can encourage healthy development, form and function. Orofacial Myology is useful for all ages, from young mouths that are still growing to fully grown mouths that need to change old habits. It is never too late!
Your Orofacial Myologist has been specifically trained to recognize Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders and will create an individually tailored program to treat each individuals' needs. The focus will be on training the tongue and facial muscles for proper function as it relates to your dental, jaw, airway, speech and posture needs with the aim of restoring optimal development, form and function.
What does the Orofacial Myology Program involve?
After your assessment you will be provided with a treatment plan that consists of 8-14 visits depending on the individual's needs.
Appointments will initially be weekly.
From there you will be provided with exercises that take 3-5 minutes and will need to be performed 2 to 3 times per day for optimal results.
The best possible outcomes are reached when the Orofacial Myologist is able to monitor your progress and see you regularly to keep you on track and motivated.
Just like any fitness and exercise program it takes time and some hard work to change these habits, but with help and encouragement the goals can be reached.
Your Orofacial Myologist will be your personal trainer for the muscles of your tongue, lips and face.