Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder 

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder(OMD): What Is It and How Does It Present?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

You may have heard the term orofacial myofunctional disorder but how much do you know about it? If you’re like most people, probably not much. Surprisingly, it affects a large percentage of the population. It’s estimated that 38% or more than 1 out of 3 people are affected by OMD.

Defining Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder 

Orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) is a disorder of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. 

There are several causes of OMD:

  • Thumb or finger-sucking, cheek or nail-biting, bruxism, tongue, lip or cheek-sucking
  • Extended use of a pacifier or sippy cups
  • Tongue-tie 
  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays

OMD can also be hereditary.

Symptoms of OMD include:

  • Insufficient nasal breathing or oral breathing
  • A habit of resting with the lips apart
  • A forward-resting positioning of the tongue
  • Tongue thrust
  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum and/or allergies
  • TMJ 
  • Headaches 
  • Airway obstruction

OMD affects the body in many ways

OMD can cause dental problems

Because swallowing requires the cooperation of many muscles simultaneously, people who are diagnosed with OMD often have a difficult time swallowing. In some ODM cases, when swallowing, the tongue doesn’t press on the hard palate but instead is thrust up into the front teeth and out to the sides, putting undue pressure on the teeth. This can result in a misaligned bite which makes biting, chewing and swallowing difficult. 

When the tongue pushes against the back of the front teeth it can create a gap between the upper and lower sets of teeth. This gap is referred to as an open bite. 

OMD can affect facial appearance

Since OMD is characterized by improper muscle function in the jaw, the effects are often visible.

Physical observations may include: 

  • A sluggish face and weak, parted lips
  • A tight chin  
  • Facial grimace

OMD can cause sleep issues

An open airway requires proper positioning of the soft tissues of the mouth. When a person struggles with OMD, the soft tissues frequently obstruct the airway, causing mild or moderate sleep apnea.

OMD can affect speech

Once again, because of improper positioning of the tongue and lips, many people have a difficult time articulating sounds and may speak with a lisp. 

Eggert Family Dentistry can help! 

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff have experience identifying OMD and helping devise custom treatment plans for each of our clients. 

If you’re interested in talking with us more about OMD and are wondering if you could benefit from OMD interventions, give our office a call at 651.482.8412. We’re here to help you achieve a confident, healthy smile and wellness for life!

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