As an IAOM Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist specializing in orofacial myofunctional therapy (or what has been referred to as “tongue thrust therapy”) since 1977, I get asked everyday,”Does Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy really work?”
The answer is, “Absolutely!”
I think the best way to demonstrate proof of how Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) really works is to show the long term results of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) through photographs of my patient’s teeth.
My patient, Sarah, age 30 years, sent me this selfie photo when her orthodontic braces were removed. Look at that gorgeous smile!
“Am I too old for tongue thrust therapy or Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?”
I get asked this question everyday and the answer is, “Absolutely Not!”
The oldest patient I have seen for orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) has been 76 years of age!
Like any other exercise based treatment program, it’s effective for patients of almost any age but I have found success is dependent upon two main ingredients:
Although it is normal for babies to suck their thumb, doing so long-term could negatively affect their oral and facial development.
When children suck their thumbs or fingers, they can affect their teeth and jaws in different ways. Some children create what is commonly known as a dental openbite (a vertical space between the upper and lower teeth where the teeth do not touch). Openbites are notoriously the most difficult to correct.
Other children will suck so that it appears that their top teeth are “sticking out”. Surprisingly, in cases like these, it usually is the BOTTOM JAW that we are more concerned about. This is because the thumb or finger is preventing the lower jaw from coming forward and growing properly. Pressure applied from the thumb against the chin can affect the normal growth of the jaw which negatively affects the child’s face.
Parents ask me all the time, “How long will it take before my child eliminates his or her sucking habit?”
Thumb/Finger sucking habits are quite normal in infancy and early childhood. Many children experience pleasure from these habits for the first few years of life and then terminate them of their own volition. However, it is important to understand that these habits may become excessive as time goes by and can adversely influence the formation of the bony oral structure and/or position of the teeth and can lead to a dental malocclusion. It can also cause the tongue to rest in a low, forward position causing an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) of an incorrect resting posture of the tongue and lips and an incorrect swallowing pattern (known as “tongue thrust”) as well as developmental of a speech disorder such as a lisp. In addition, there are risks of infection from communicable diseases due to the simple fact that they can be be sucking non-sterile thumbs or fingers as well as social implications of ridicule by peers.
The length of time to eliminate a prolonged non-nutritive sucking habit has nothing to do with age but depends on 3 factors:
These Before and After dental photos are a continuation of posts about one of my patients, Shay Lowe Shull of Mix and Match Mama, who shared her experience with orofacial myofunctional therapy at Honor Franklin Myofunctional & Speech Clinic and orthodontics at Adams & McBride Orthodontics in my blog dated 4-19-2016 and showed her excellent results on 5-3-2016. Results like this are another example why IAOM Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapists are a necessary part of the orthodontic team in helping orthodontists achieve successful results.