What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?

An Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) involves behaviors and patterns created by inappropriate muscle function and habits involving the tongue, lips, and jaws.  This may affect facial growth and development, facial appearance, occlusions, stabilization of orthodontic treatment, chewing, swallowing, speech, and more.


What are the signs and symptoms?

Children with OMDs may have the following:

  • Chronic open mouth posture
  • Lip incompetence (e.g., rest with lips apart)
  • Dental abnormalities (e.g., open bite)
  • A tongue thrust which is more accurately known as an incorrect resting posture and swallow pattern
  • Difficulty saying certain sounds or speech is imprecise or mumbled


What are the causes? 

It is often difficult to identify the particular cause of  OMDs and, in many cases, it may be the result of a combination of factors.  Many experts suggest they develop from the following:

  • Extended use of pacifiers and/or sippy cups
  • Noxious oral habits (e.g., thumb/finger sucking, nail biting, and tongue/lip/cheek sucking)
  • Structural or physiological abnormalities (e.g., a short lingual frenum/tongue-tie)
  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum, and/or allergies
  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays
  • Hereditary predisposition


How are Orofacial Myofunctional disorders evaluated?

A myofunctional evaluation allows us to obtain a complete picture of your child's myofunctional needs and to develop goals to target in therapy.  The evaluation may entail:

  • An oral motor examination to assess the structure and function of the oral motor mechanism.
  • Assessing the child’s oral rest posture.
  • Assessing the child’s swallow pattern while eating and drinking.


How are orofacial Myofunctional disorders treated?

The goal of myofunctional therapy is to aid in the creation and maintenance of a healthy, stable orofacial environment.  Therapy may help in the stabilization of the dental and/or orthodontic treatment, enhance facial appearance, improve clarity of speech, etc.  OMDs may be treated by:

  • Eliminating any noxious oral habits.
  • Reshaping/toning musculature of the mouth, so it is capable of maintaining a correct oral resting posture and swallow pattern.
  • Establishing a nasal breathing pattern.
  • Retraining the tongue, lips, and jaw to be at the correct position at rest.
  • Retraining and eliminating an incorrect chewing and swallow pattern.


Where can I learn more?

For additional information on OMDs, please go to: