MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY (ORAL MYOLOGY) IN ORTHODONTIC TREATMENT
When you recognize a body with an orofacial myofunction disorder (OMD), the root cause should be determined prior to treatment. Do you remember some common OMDs and their most common causes? A very prevalent OMD is mouth breathing, which usually develops in response to a RESTRICTED AIRWAY . It is probably obvious to you that to eliminate the habit of mouth breathing, one must be able to breathe through the nose with the mouth closed! Let us look at some logical sequenced steps to take. You will recall that a blocked or restricted airway is usually the result of large adenoids and/or tonsils, enlarged nasal turbinates, and inflamed or mucous-filled sinuses. These problems can be visualized with a 3D image taken as a diagnostic tool for determining orthodontic needs and subsequent treatment planning. If a patient cannot breathe through their nose properly, success of orthodontic treatment will be compromised. Therefore, it is necessary to properly diagnose and treat any airway problems prior to beginning orthodontic treatment. Your dentist should be able to determine if there is a need for the patient to be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. The ENT doctor will assess the need and provide any necessary airway treatment(s). Once there is a good airway established, myofunctional therapy is a good second step and may be provided by the dentist or an outside therapist working in conjunction with your dentist. The myofunctional treatment is provided to correct/eliminate old bad habits established as a result of having to breathe through the mouth. If the habits are not eliminated, the orthodontic treatment will be at risk of failing or the patient may relapse.
bite caused by factors other than mouth breathing. Oral habits like thumb or finger sucking can cause open bites that do not really look much different than one caused from mouth breathing. However, the open bite resulting from this habit can lead to mouth breathing
and poor swallowing. See how one OMD promotes other OMDs? When there is no real airway issue but there are OMDs causing malocclusions and poor facial development, myofunctional therapy can be a powerful tool. In some cases, much improvement can be seen with myofunctional therapy alone. When used with orthodontic treatment, results tend to be more stable with less relapse of the ortho treatments. Oral myofunctional therapy (OMT) includes exercises and/or appliances to correct poor function and bad habits. OMT focuses on functional postures and patterns when your teeth are not in occlusion (not touching each other). Traditional orthodontics focuses on the teeth in occlusion, but our teeth are not touching about 95% of the time. We need to focus more on and make a greater effort to include oral myology/ myofunctional therapy as an important part of orthodontic treatment in children and adults. Also remember when examining causes of many OMDs, do not forget tongue-ties/lip-ties and destructive oral habits!
Something very important to consider is myofunctional therapy as a stand-alone treatment in some cases. Some people, including children, have an anterior open
-Dr. Ann Soberay OMEGADENTAL.ORG
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