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.
I am proud to share the publication of an article I co-authored with Dr. Robert Mason, Emeritus Professor of Surgery and Previous Chief of Orthodontics at Duke University Medical Center, entitled,”Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders and Otolaryngologists”. The purpose of the article is to alert otolaryngologists to Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) and their primary causes of airway interference including allergies. An understanding of the variety of OMDs should facilitate improved communications between otolaryngologists and IAOM Certified Orofacial Myologists since Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy will not be successful without the resolution of airway interference.
For years, dentists have told their patients that anterior open bites (bites where there is a gap or opening between the upper and lower front teeth) are created when the tongue is pushed between the front teeth during swallowing known as a “tongue thrust”.
Although the tongue is one of the strongest and most active muscles in the body, does swallowing actually cause dental malocclusions like an anterior open bite?