OMD stands for orofacial myofunctional disorder. These types of disorders are dysfunctions of the muscles of the orofacial complex and include destructive oral habits and poor head posture. Some symptoms of OMDs include speech articulation difficulties, mouth-breathing, lips apart with tongue down and forward at rest, chewing and swallowing difficulties accompanied by messy, slow, or unnatural eating patterns. All these symptoms can affect normal facial growth and development. They may disrupt facial aesthetics or lead to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in children. The signs or symptoms of OMDs essentially define the dysfunction(s), but there can be one or multiple OMDs present at the same time. What Causes OMDs? Although we do not know exactly what triggers or causes all OMDs, certain common causes are known. Usually, the main cause is a combination of one or more factors. There’s one pesky thing that keeps popping up: our absolute need to BREATHE! Airway problems are at the top of the list of causes for OMDs. When we cannot breathe through our nose efficiently, our bodies will compensate in some way, such as breathing through our mouth. The inability to breathe through the nose may be referred to as “inhibited airway breathing,” “mouth-breathing,” or “nasal incompetence”. Some of the most common causes of inhibited breathing are allergies, enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, inflamed turbinates, and variations of normal anatomy of nose and throat.
Another cause of OMDs at the top of the list is a restricted lingual frenum (commonly known as a tongue-tie). Tongue-ties limit the normal intended movement of the tongue, which affects speech, chewing, swallowing, and normal development of the oral cavity. Bad oral habits, even if they were in the past, are another cause of OMDs. The damage that may have been done still exists. Examples can include thumb-, finger-, and lip-sucking. Many times, it is the dentist who raises questions when the patient has a dental complaint. These complaints can range from malocclusion, crossbites, or narrow arches to open mouth posture and snoring at night. Dentists can address most of these issues but should not overlook why some of these complaints are present. A breathing issue should most certainly be examined, diagnosed, and treated by an ENT specialist. Your dentist can point you in the right direction and get you started. Without a normally functioning airway, dental treatment is doomed to fail/relapse. Untreated airway issues can lead to SBD in children and OSA in adults. Now that you know a little more about some common OMDs and their causes, I want to briefly address some of the consequences of the OMDs. The most important cause of many OMDs starts with a compromised airway that leads to mouth-breathing, which leads to more OMDs. So, it is not exactly a clean list of OMDs and CAUSES. It is a cascade of problems and consequences that affect our overall health. Mouth-breathing can lead to SBD and OSA, which then lead up to a mountain of serious health problems. Take some time to observe your children and others you love and see if you discover a possible problem. We are here to help you seek care where needed. Give us a call at 952-460-9100.