About Orofacial Myology

What is Orofacial Myology?
Orofacial myology is postural training of the tongue and facial muscles that includes a therapeutic approach for orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) and parafunctional or harmful habits. The prefix ‘myo’ means muscle.

Orofacial myologists are a group of professionals that provide information, education, resources, support, and myofunctional
therapy for families or patients seeking help regarding orofacial myofunctional disorders.

What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder?
An OMD is any habit or condition that interferes with proper development and action of the the orofacial muscles. This includes muscles of the tongue, lips, cheeks and jaw. Incorrect habits can lead to improper development of the teeth, speech, chewing, swallowing, poor sleep quality, poor table manners, and poor resting tongue posture patterns. One of the most common orofacial myofunctional disorders is a low resting tongue, which can lead to a tongue thrust (incorrect swallow pattern).

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders may include:

  • Incorrect tongue posture at rest
  • Open lips and mouth posture
  • Mouth breathing or sleep disordered breathing
  • Incorrect swallowing pattern (tongue thrust)
  • Open bite or orthodontic relapse
  • TMJ or head and neck pain
  • Sucking or biting habits (cheeks or lips)
  • Thumb/finger sucking
  • Nail biting
  • Teeth grinding/clenching
  • Prolonged pacifier or sippy cup use
  • Tongue or lip tie

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

What are the goals for an orofacial myofunctional therapy?
Each person’s therapy plan is individualized, but overall goals are generally to resolve harmful habits and re-learn muscle functions to promote proper growth and development, and restore proper tongue and lip resting postures. Removing habits like thumb or finger sucking, and myofunctional therapy can improve breathing quality, mouth rest posture, drooling, poor table manners, and poor sleep quality.

How long does therapy take?
Therapy consists of different phases. Eliminating a finger or thumb sucking habit can take 4-5 weekly appointments. Other disorders are generally addressed over the course of months. It takes time to unlearn habits and re-pattern new ones.
What does a therapy program consist of?
A complimentary screening at my Wichita office can identify signs and symptoms of OMDs. A myofunctional assessment will evaluate oral structures and functions, and allow for an individual therapy plan. Each therapy appointment addresses your goals, and we meet on
average every two weeks over a period of months. Therapy exercises are given to be done routinely at home. Virtual sessions may be an option.
How does the patient’s and/or parent’s participation affect therapy outcomes?
The patient and parent/guardian must understand that progress and results can be delayed if there is a lack of commitment and daily participation. Therapy goals may require collaboration of other dental or health care providers before or during your myofunctional therapy program. Oral health and wellness are very much connected to our overall health and wellness.