Why Be Concerned
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is a program used to correct the improper function of the tongue and facial muscles used at rest, for chewing and for swallowing.
Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, mouth and throat. The act of swallowing is one function that depends on the body’s vital balance. To swallow properly, muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks and throat must work together in harmony.
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) is often commonly referred to as “tongue thrust” because the tongue functions against or between the front or side teeth during swallowing rather than lifting up into the palate (roof of the mouth). Almost all infants swallow this way. By 6 years of age, most children automatically change to a “normal” and more efficient swallowing pattern that involves pushing the tip of the tongue against the roof the mouth. If this does not happen abnormal pressure is placed on the teeth and jaws, which can cause dental malocclusions, improper bite relationship, or abnormal jaw development.
What Causes Tongue Thrust?
Factors that may contribute to tongue-thrusting include:
- Improper oral habits, such as prolonged thumb or finger sucking, nail biting, tooth grinding
- Restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, allergies, or a deviated septum, which may promote an open-lip posture (mouth breathing)
- Structural abnormalities such as a short lingual frenum (tongue-tie) or high narrow palate
- Poor muscle control or low tone