Orofacial Myology

Orofacial Myology may sound like a bit of a mouthful at first, but it simply refers to healthcare focused on the face, jaw and mouth. This practise treats the cause, not just the symptoms. Here at Thumbs Away, we work closely with our patients, every step of the way, to develop goals and action plans. Here’s some frequently asked questionns that may help you gain a greater understanding of what Orofacial Myology is all about.  

What is an Orofacial Myologist?

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapists (or Orofacial Myologists) are Dental Specialists, Dentists, Oral Health Therapists, Dental Hygienists, Registered Nurses and Speech Pathologists who have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in their field, are currently registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Register in their field, and who have undergone specific training in this field.

What are Orofacial Myology Disorders?

Certain disorders of the muscles of the face and mouth are known as Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs). They include non-nutritive sucking habits, improper swallowing habits, and incorrect postures and functions of the muscles of the tongue, lips, jaws and face. They can include:

1. Thumb, finger, lip, tongue or cheek sucking habits
2. Mouthbreathing which results in a mouth open and lips-apart rest posture
3. A forward and low rest position of the tongue
4. A tongue rest position where the tongue rests against or between the teeth
5. Inappropriate thrusting of the tongue forwards or sideways on swallowing and/or speaking

The impact on dental development, facial growth, orthodontic treatment outcomes, and, importantly, the stability of the position of the teeth once orthodontic treatment is complete is why early intervention is so important. 

Various issues contribute to the development and establishment of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder. These can include:

  • Oral habits
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, allergies, asthma, sinusitis, hayfever, deviated septum, a restricted flow of air through the nose.
  • Untreated tongue ties or restrictions
  • Neurological impairment such as Cerebral Palsy
  • Any other physical or neurological problem that limits the patient’s ability to achieve correct orofacial muscle function.

Habit Cessation

Stopping habits such as thumb sucking is the first step to achieving orofacial muscle harmony. It is important to begin when intellectual and emotional skills are adequately developed in your child so 4-5 years of age is an ideal time. With early elimination of these habits and correct tongue positioning, there is often spontaneous improvement in dental, speech and concerns.

Why Thumbs Away is Different

Helping children to understand the ‘why’ behind our treatment plans and programs empowers them to commit to making lasting changes. We don’t just treat their symptoms, we address the undesired habit as a whole. We acknowledge that ceasing dummy, finger and thumb sucking can be a stressful time for both parents and children alike so our sessions, programs and follow-ups have a particular focus on being as fun and relaxed as possible.