Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder: A Mouthful

What Actually Is It?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders contain one or a combination of the following: abnormal thumb, finger, lip and tongue sucking habits; an inappropriate mouth open or lips open resting posture; a forward interdental rest posture of the tongue; a forward rest position of the tongue against the maxillary incisors; lateral, posterior interdental tongue resting posture; inappropriate thrusting of the tongue in speaking and/or swallowing.

Tongue thrust is one of many common disorders associated with orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD).

Nearly all young children exhibit a swallowing pattern involving tongue thrust protrusion, but by the age of 6 most have automatically switched to a mature or “normal” swallowing pattern.

What are some common signs or symptoms to help identify an OMD?

  1. High narrow palate
  2. Open bite, overjet, crossbite, deep bite
  3. Little to no diastema at a young age or overcrowding
  4. Open mouth resting posture with tongue against or protruding against the teeth
  5. Incorrect forward thrusting swallowing pattern
  6. History of tongue or lip tie associated with feeding difficulties
  7. Severe allergies or history of recurring upper respiratory infections
  8. Family history or orofacial myofunctional disorders

What Does Therapy Look Like?

Each individual comes in for a comprehensive evaluation that we look at many areas of their health:

  1. Airway-Do we have free nasal airway for a closed mouth resting posture
  2. Birth History
  3. Allergies
  4. Function and posture of oral structures including: cheeks, jaw, tongue, throat
  5. Tongue or Lip tie

We then make a plan for that individual. Therapy is one time per week for 30-minutes. The COMP program, which stands for Chatterton Orofacial Myofunctional Program, is a series of 10 lessons focusing on changing muscle memory for the following:

  1. Jaw stabilization
  2. Lingual-Mandibular differentiation- can the jaw and tongue work separately from one another
  3. Tongue and Lip resting posture during the day and night
  4. Retraining the swallow

Each individual progresses at their own rate depending on their coordination and needs. The patient will be given a series of exercises to perform 3 times a day to reshape and change muscle memory.

What Happens if OMD is not Treated

What happens if we don’t treat OMD? If a child is an open mouth breather at a young age and it is not identified as being a problem, then this open mouth resting posture encourages tongue down, lip open resting posture during the day and night. When the mouth is open with tongue down and forward throughout the day and night, the individual is more susceptible to hypertrophic tonsils, adenoids and large nasal turbanants. When these tonsils/adenoids are enlarged health risks increase:

  1. More susceptible to viruses or bacterial infections, such as, strep throat
  2.  Sleep apnea due to restricted nasal airflow
  3.  Postural changes
  4.  Weak facial muscles

With open mouth resting posture facial features develop differently. The face appears long with poor definition of cheek bones. The mandible or jaw is retracted and small which affects airway size making it small and at higher risk for sleep apnea. When teeth emerge, they are misaligned. If tongue is forward and down at rest, the teeth will find space to grow and that is when open bites or over jets develop. The palate is high and narrow due to the open mouth breathing. The nose shape can change as well as the eyes looking tired vs alert.

Over 50% of orthodontic patients exhibit some form of orofacial myofunctional disorder. If you are concerned about the possibility of orofacial myofunctional disorder, we want to help you. We work closely with a variety of professionals to provide comprehensive treatment. We communicate openly and often with other healthcare professionals including: Orthodontists, Dentists, ENT’s, Sleep Apnea Specialists, Primary Care Physicians, Craniosacral Massage Therapists, and other care providers on the team.

Rian Chatterton

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Rian Chatterton is the owner of Center for Orofacial Myology and creator of Chatterton Myo Courses™. As a child, Rian Chatterton struggled with her R sounds. She loved the experience of attending speech therapy and was able to overcome her speech challenges. Being able to articulate clearly, helped her gain confidence and no longer feel embarrassed. This struggle led to a love for the field of speech-language pathology, where she has worked since 2006. With a Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Idaho State University (2002), a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Idaho State University (2004), she has worked with children, adolescents, and adults with a variety of communication disorders, specializing in the areas of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Augmentative & Alternative Communication, and Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders. Her continued passion to help others has led to continuing her education with a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), a State of Idaho License for Speech Language Pathology and completed her certification process with the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) in 2016. Rian took over ownership of Boise Speech and Hearing Clinic in the summer of 2013 and established the Center for Orofacial Myology and Chatterton Myo Courses™ in 2021. Her desire to make a larger impact on those who struggle with Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders led to opening up the Chatterton Myo Courses™program to other professionals in the field of Speech-Language. This program has a 35 year long history with Boise Speech and Hearing Clinic as it was developed by the owner, Galen Peachey, who was one of the founders of the IAOM. Disclosure: Financials: Benefits financially from the teaching, selling, and use of these products. Earns a salary from the Center for Orofacial Myology™. Non-financial: No relevant non-financial relationship exists.