Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) are disorders that impact the proper functioning of muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. More common in people who breathe through their mouths, OMDs can lead to a host of oral health issues in addition to speech problems, irregular facial skeletal growth, and interference with chewing and swallowing. OMDs may also impact the success of orthodontic treatment and act as a catalyst for TMJ.
If you have difficulties breathing through your nose, you are at risk for an OMD and may have already developed some of the symptoms of these disorders. Please call Houston TMJ specialist Dr. Ronald Konig at 713-668-2289 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help. Located in Houston, Dr. Konig provides advanced myofunctional therapy solutions for people living in The Woodlands, Katy, Sugar Land, Conroe, and all surrounding areas of Texas.
What are some of the detrimental effects of mouth breathing versus proper nasal breathing?
When one breathes through their nose, the air is filtered and reaches the lungs with less impurities. Mouth breathing is not filtered the impurities go to the lungs. Mouth breathing can also alter the jaw posture, the width of the palate and the growth of your jaws and facial features.
Causes of OMD
OMDs may be caused by several factors. Some of the most common include:
- Genetic factors including mouth size, tongue positioning, tooth arrangement, and facial muscle strength
- Thumb or finger sucking, both of which can push teeth forward, impact tongue positioning and change the shape of the jaw
- Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding, which can impact muscle tension, alter the structure of teeth, and change the shape of the jaw
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids which can block airflow and cause an open-mouth breathing pattern
Because most OMDs occur in people who breathe through their mouths, anything that causes mouth breathing for extended periods can increase risks. Even things like seasonal allergies can habituate a person to mouth breathing and increase the risk of developing an OMD.
During your routine visits with Dr. Konig, we will look for signs of OMD to determine if myofunctional therapy will be necessary to protect the health and beauty of your smile.
We know mouth breathing is detrimental to jaw development and can cause bad bites too. What else causes patients to mouth breathe?
- Enlarged tonsils
- Thumbsucking habits
Signs of OMD
OMDs often result in tongue thrust, which impacts proper swallowing and can alter speech patterns. Referring to the act of pushing the tongue against or between the teeth while swallowing, tongue thrust can cause abnormal muscle development, which may make sound articulation very difficult. Unusual speech patterns or difficulties speaking at all are common signs of OMD.
OMDs may cause a tightening of cheeks, chin, and lips, resulting in a grimaced appearance. They may also result in a permanent space between the lips that can produce a dull or sluggish appearance.
OMDs increase the risk of TMJ symptoms such as chronic headaches, pain and swelling in the jaw, neck and backache, and serious systemic health issues including digestive problems and changes in posture. Oral health issues such as gum disease and cavities may also be exacerbated by OMD.
Houston neuromuscular dentist Dr. Ronald Konig offers myofunctional therapy for the treatment of OMD. Exact treatment methods are dependent on the cause, duration, and severity of each case, but may include:
- Exercises to increase awareness of tongue positioning
- Techniques to improve muscle function and position
- Orthotic devices to help retrain muscles
Dr. Konig takes a multidisciplinary approach when treating issues with facial muscles such as TMJ and OMD. The best way to determine which techniques will be of the greatest benefit to you is through an examination and treatment consultation with Dr. Konig.
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
OMT is an interdisciplinary practice that works with the muscles of the lips, tongue, cheeks, and face and their related functions. Some of the functions are breathing, swallowing, chewing, sucking, and some aspects of speech.
Who can benefit from Oral Myofunctional Therapy?
From young children to adults, MFT can help those who have Myofunctional disorders such as aberrant alterations in breathing, swallowing, sucking, chewing, and speech. These aberrant functions pertain to lips , tongue, cheeks, and facial muscles which can lead to overbites, underbites, open bites as well as TMJ pain.
Q and A
How does Myofunctional therapy and the "big three" relate to jaw growth and development?
When the "big three", nasal breathing, lip seal, and proper tongue posture are in line during growth and development the face has a chance for development to full genetic potential. If these are interrupted or corrupted, we often see underdeveloped upper or lower jaws: underbites or overbites. In most cases these can be corrected non-surgically.
To schedule your initial myofunctional therapy consultation with our Houston neuromuscular dentist, call 713-668-2289 today.