There are many possible variations of orofacial myofunctional disorders just as there are many patterns of normal function. Some patterns are more common than others. The effects of these patterns need to be evaluated individually, especially when there are dental, medical, or speech concerns. The decision to treat or not to treat should be made by a professional trained in Orofacial Myology. Orofacial Myology treatment goal include the improvement of muscle tonicity and establishing correct functional activities of the tongue, lips, and mandible so that normal growth and development can take place or progress in a stable, homeostatic environment.
Treatment should be completed by a specially trained professional certified as an Orofacial Myologist. Speech pathologists, dentists, registered dental hygienists, psychologists, special educators, allied health professionals, and nurses are among the specialists who seek additional training in this area. The qualifications of professionals who provide treatment for you and your family should always be checked. The International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM) is a professional organization that can help identify professionals in your area who are trained and/or certified to provide this specialized treatmet.
Children as young as four years old can benefit from an evaluation session to determine if any preventative steps should be prescribed. Children of seven or eight years of age are often mature enough to receive complete training. Adults of all ages are capable of success in treatment.
How Prevalent Are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?
Recent research examining orofacial myofunctional disorders in various populations have found a prevalence of anywhere from 38% in the general population to 81% in children exhibiting speech/articulation problems. (Kellum,1992, Maul, et.al,1999).
Many recent scientific studies have shown that treatment for orofacial myofunctional disorders can be 80-90% effective in correcting swallowing and rest posture function and that these corrections are retained years after completing therapy, (Hahn&Hahn,1992)
There are many factors that contribute to the success of the therapy program. Of these, cooperation is an essential factor. Another important factor is the cooperation and communication between the therapist and the referring dental community. A team effort is essential to success.