What is Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?
Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) 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
- 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.
The most important cause of many OMDs starts with a compromised airway that leads to mouth-breathing, which leads to more OMDs. The most common signs of inhibited breathing are:
- Mouth hangs open at rest
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Poor Posture
- Crowded teeth
- Getting sick often
- Feeling tired Regularly
- Trouble focusing
If you are concerned that you or your children having one or more OMDs or inhibited breathing, start by observing you or your children for one or more of the above symptoms.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) is the treatment of Myofunctional disorders (OMDs), and orofacial myology is the study and treatment of orofacial muscles for OMDs. OMT is designed for each individual and OMDs diagnosed. This type of therapy can make a difference in overall orthodontic treatment. Sometimes, Myofunctional treatment alone can make big changes.
Over the years, orthodontic breakthroughs have resulted in new treatments that help to create a better functioning, longer lasting and more aesthetically pleasing smile. Functional Jaw Orthodontics such as the Myobrace® System or A.L.F (Alternative Lightwire Functional) appliances uses the muscles of the face (chewing muscles, lips, tongue...) to encourage and promote proper growth and development of teeth and jaws. These treatments are available to help correct a variety of problems, and conventional braces may or may not be part of the needed treatment.
Often times, a 3D image of the entire oral cavity is needed as part of the full evaluation prior to treatment planning.
Poor Myofunctional habits (poor oral habits) are evident before all permanent teeth are present, which means treatment of the causes can begin much earlier than originally thought. This can be as early as three years of age.
Myofunctional orthodontics allows patients to grow without the detrimental habits that limit facial growth. Often times, treating children earlier at their optimal growth stage (between ages 5-8 years) using myofunctional orthodontic techniques may eliminate the need for braces later in life or make orthodontic treatment later easier and more stable.
Waiting until all permanent teeth have come through to begin treatment with braces can, unfortunately, lead to irreversible damage affecting not only the teeth but also the child’s overall health and development.
The Myobrace®System is preventive pre-orthodontic treatment that focuses on addressing the underlying causes of crooked teeth, often without the need for braces or extraction of teeth, unlocking natural growth and development. Treatment is best suited to children aged 3 to 15 and involves using a series of removable intra-oral appliances that are worn for 1-2 hours each day plus overnight while sleeping.
Alternative Lightwire Functionals (A.L.F.)
The ALF appliance is a fantastic appliance and we have used it alone or in conjunction with other orthodontic techniques to provide our patients with beautiful smiles. This appliance can help align teeth and improve the bite without traditional braces. Sometimes, it's all that is needed. It promotes the alignment of the bones using cranial osteopathy principles. The ALF appliance is gentle and provides stable results.