Oral Myofunctional Disorder

Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, CA

There are more doctors and dentists diagnosing children and adults alike with Oral Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) than ever before. Many people are unfamiliar with this diagnosis and are not sure what it means. It generally refers to a pattern of oral and oral facial muscles that are interfering with development, function, and potentially appearance.

OMD is also referred to as tongue thrust, reverse swallow, or deviate swallow

What do these terms mean? It can be very complicated to understand a diagnosis because everyone calls him different things. A tongue thrust, reverse swallow, or do you swallow all our representative of the same diagnosis. It refers to an irregular swallow where the tongue moves forward, or sideways in an exaggerated manner during swallowing. When the tongue is at rest, it is usually low and forward within the mouth.

At birth, babies, use reverse swallow as a way to protect their airways. By the age of five, most children develop more efficient patterns. However, if the child continues to use the reverse swallow method, it is possible to receive an OMD diagnosis.

What are the signs of OMD?

Understanding the terms of OMD is very important and you may notice it in your child or yourself. The signs can vary from person to person. There are various unwanted oral habits, including teeth clenching, lip biting, and thumb sucking. A person may also be a messy eater, the tongue may be visible at the front of the mouth during a swallow, and the tongue may even rest on the bottom lip. There may also be an immature loss of teeth, prolonged use of a bottle or sippy cup, difficulties in breathing, expensive allergies, and large tonsils, and it may also run in the family.

A normal swallow involves the teeth and lips being sealed. The tongue tip presses at the roof of the mouth and the tongue will slope downward in order to push food into the throat. There is also a negative intra-oral pressure that forces the time into a wavelike motion when there is any kind of swallowing.

You may already notice that you do or do not have a normal swallow. If you have an atypical swallow, it may be time to talk to your doctor about myofunctional therapy. You may have noticed it in your child, teen, or yourself.

What occurs with an OMD diagnosis?

It is important to note that you likely swallow around 1500 times a day. The tongue can place anywhere between 1-6 pounds of pressure on the roof of the mouth.

If the poor habits are allowed to continue, tongue thrusting or reverse swallow can lead to a variety of dental and health problems including:

  • Relapse of orthodontic treatments, such as braces
  • Speech problems
  • Breathing problems
  • Showing tongue while eating
  • Soreness of the teeth and tongue
  • Temporomandibular joint problems
  • Allergies
  • Periodontal problems
  • Headaches

What can be done about the problem?

Once you learn that you have tongue thrust, reverse swallow, or OMD, regardless of what a dentist called it, there are things that you can do. First, it is important that you do not self-diagnose this problem. You will need to speak to a doctor or dentist about your concerns and let them perform a physical and potentially get x-rays in order to determine the overall development of your oral muscles.

In Agoura Hills, you have the ability to visit a holistic dentist where myofunctional therapy can be performed such as visiting Dr. Kathleen Carson at Integrative Dental Arts. Holistic dentistry is a natural form of treating these problems so that they do not continue to cause the patient problems in the future.

Imagine getting braces for your child without correcting their OMD. After the braces come off, if your child is continuing to swallow improperly, the teeth may begin crowding again or buckteeth could resume, meaning that you spent thousands of dollars for braces without getting the problem solved.

Myofunctional therapy is essentially a way of training, your tongue, lips, and learning how to swallow all over again. A consultation can be scheduled so that you can learn more about this therapy and find out whether it is something that will benefit you or your child. It can be very affordable and in some instances, insurance will cover at least some of the costs because it is considered preventative in nature.

Understanding OMDs and the problems that they can cause will help you to understand the importance of seeking help for the problem. If you continue to do nothing, the problems are only going to get worse over time. Your tongue has a considerable amount of muscle and as you move this muscle incorrectly to speak, swallow, and do many other things, it is going to lead to various other problems. You may not notice all of these problems at first, but they will slowly start to build.

The good news is that many people who have gone through myofunctional therapy have been able to turn the problems around. The tongue thrusting stops, and the headaches, breathing problems, and other issues go away. The appearance of the face can change, and many people have actually sought myofunctional therapy as a way to receive a natural facelift.

When you are ready to learn more, you can make an appointment at your local holistic dental practice in order to set up a consultation and discover the benefits.

To learn more about Dr. Kathleen Carson, please click here to see all of the extensive education she has to make this the right choice. You can schedule a consultation by calling Integrative Dental Arts at (818) 889-0400. We welcome patients of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, and Westlake Village.