On August 18, 2016, Drs. Robert & Bobbi Stanley, Patty Toombs (dental assistant) and Amber Keeter (dental hygienist) traveled to Chicago, Illinois to attend a four-day conference presented by the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT).
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)?
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders of the muscles and functions of the face, mouth and tongue. OMDs may affect breastfeeding, chewing, swallowing, speech, occlusion (bite), temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics, and facial skeletal growth/development, . Most OMDs originate with insufficient habitual nasal breathing or oral breathing. The subsequent adaptation of the muscles and the orofacial functions to a disordered breathing pattern creates many OMDs. Orofacial myofunctional disorders may impact treatments by orthodontists, dentists, dental hygienists, speech-language pathologists, and other professionals working in the orofacial area. (source: AOMT.com)
Symptoms of OMD
- Complaints of chronic headaches
- Open mouth rest position or mouth breathing
- Teeth moving after orthodontic treatment
- Open bite
- Chronic congestion
- Complaint of temporal mandibular dysfunction or neck pain
- Tongue always in the way (when doing dentistry)
- Scalloping of the tongue
- Oral habits (thumb or finger sucking, nail biting, lip licking)
- Chronic stomachaches, burping, drooling, hiccups, acid reflux
- Forward head posture
- Tongue tie
- Sleep apnea
- Speech issues
- Feeding issues
- Excessive drooling
Dental Problems related to OMD
When a person swallows incorrectly, the tongue may press against or spread the teeth, known as tongue thrust. This constant pressure may push teeth out of place or prevent them from erupting (through the gum) and can lead to an abnormal bite. This could lead to difficulties biting, chewing and swallowing and may prevent proper digestion of food.
Other issues related to OMD
Many times an OMD can be noticed due to poor muscle tone of the face. Some symptoms include constantly parted lips or tightening of the cheek, chin and lip muscles that give the appearance of a grimace. Sometimes speech and sleep disorders may arise because of poor tongue position and can cause fatigue and behavior issues in adults and children. Mouth breathing in young children may even lead to death.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy has been used throughout the world for decades to correct disorders of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. As a Senior Instructor at the International Association of Orthodontics in Milwaukee Wisconsin, an LVI trained Neuromuscular Dentist (to correct TMJ disorder) and a provider of orthodontics at Stanley Dentistry in Cary, North Carolina, Dr. Bobbi Stanley diagnoses issues related to improper mouth and facial function daily. With the exceptional knowledge gained in the Chicago course, Drs. Stanley and team can address detrimental habits in their patients before they become real life problems. “Patty and I are working with patients who have suffered with the symptoms of TMJ disorder and now we have another tool to provide the relief they need,” said Dr. Bobbi Stanley. Dr. Robert Stanley pointed out that having a trained dental hygienist will allow Stanley Dentistry to recognize OMDs and provide treatment to more patients.
How can these issues be fixed?
The AOMT suggests a collaborative approach between dentists, physicians and speech therapists trained in myofunctional therapy for successful treatment of OMD. These professionals will use a variety of exercises to re-educate the oral facial muscles. In cases of tongue-tie, these neuromuscular exercises will help eliminate oral habits such as nail biting and thumb sucking, improve nasal breathing and promote proper chewing, swallowing and speech.