Improving the Quality of Your Child’s Life
Fair Lakes Family and Cosmetic Dentistry believes that optimal oral health begins with the proper function of your orofacial muscles. The muscles in the face, mouth and tongue work in coordination to help you swallow, chew, speak and articulate words as well as keep your breathing focused, in and out, through your nostrils. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) addresses any weakness in one or more of these muscle systems that may be causing a multitude of health problems in children and adults including sleep apnea. Muscle strength and coordination is the key to proper swallowing, speech development and getting good quality sleep.
What is an Oral Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)?
An oral myofunctional disorder is when the muscles in the mouth and face are underdeveloped or lack tone impacting your child’s ability to articulate speech, swallow properly, keep mouth closed at rest and sleep with mouth closed. How do I know if my child has symptoms of an OMD? Some common symptoms of OMDs include:
- Weak lower lip
- Mouth breathing both at night and during the day
- Open mouth posture – tendency for lower jaw to hang open
- Limited tongue movement
- Speech delay or difficulty
- Drooling beyond the age of two
- Open bites and overbites
Children who use a pacifier or suck their thumb are more likely to have an OMD as these habits can change the shape of the mouth and dentition and weaken muscles in and around the face. Diagnosing and treating an oral myofunctional disorder early will have lifelong benefits for your child’s overall health and dental development.
What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Young children, teenagers and adult patients can benefit from exercises designed to strengthen the tongue muscles and the muscles in the face. It is important that these muscle systems work together to function properly improving breathing, swallowing and overall health. Myofunctional therapy aims to retrain the muscles of the mouth and face to manage and potentially cure the symptoms of:
- Speech difficulties in children
- Chronic open mouth posture
- Mouth breathing during sleep causing mild to moderate sleep apnea
- Chewing with lips open
It’s all about tongue position! Did you know that without the proper tongue position (resting on the roof of the mouth at rest), orthodontic treatment will have less long term success?
Dr. Tran Uses
Three Tools To Help!
Fair Lakes Family and Cosmetic Dentistry located in Fairfax, VA employs several tools to improve orofacial myofunctional health. However, they are just tools. The results you get depend on the skill level of the dentist and team and your compliance. Restoring myofunctional health does require a commitment to the exercises prescribed by your dentist. If you are a parent and are concerned if your child may exhibit signs of an OMD such as speech difficulty or chronic open mouth posture, we offer myofunctional tools that can help retrain facial and oral muscles.