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What are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)?

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are atypical, adaptive patterns that emerge in the absence of normalized patterns within the orofacial complex. The regular presence of these adaptive movements can often result in a variety of disturbances.


Examples of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders include one or a combination of the following:

  • Thumb and finger sucking habits

  • A routine habit of resting with the lips apart

  • A forward resting posture of the tongue 

  • Tongue thrust

  • Other harmful oral habits

What are some of the causes of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

It is often difficult to isolate a particular source as the sole cause of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder and in most cases, it can be result of a combination of factors. Many experts suggest that OMDs may develop as a result from the following:

  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum, and/or allergies.

  • Improper oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking, cheek/nail/cuticle biting, teeth clenching/grinding, and tongue, lip or cheek sucking

  • Extended use of a pacifier and/or long-term use of sippy cups

  • Structural or physiological abnormalities which may include a short lingual frenum (tongue-tie)

  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays

  • Hereditary predisposition

How prevalent are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

Research indicates in various populations, a prevalence of 38% in the general population

to 81% in children exhibiting speech/articulation problems.

Why be concerned about OMDs?

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders interrupt normalized movement patterns.

Failure to address an OMD can result in:

  • Long term mouth-breathing patterns 

  • Detrimental oral habits that impede growth and development

  • Atypical patterns that impact chewing and swallowing

  • Improper development/alignment of the teeth

  • Improper development of jaw growth and facial structure

  • Slowing the process of orthodontic treatment

  • Undermining the long-term stability of orthodontic treatment, resulting in malocclusion relapse

  • Impacting the stability and function of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

  • Speech distortions

  • Affecting social relationships due to open mouth postures or noisy chewing and swallowing patterns


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