The following is a guideline as it relates to orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) and the various age ranges:
Infants and Babies:
While orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) may be identified throughout the lifespan, orofacial myofunctional therapy is not applicable to infants or babies, due to the need for active involvement in the therapy process. However, recognizing these issues early and making the appropriate referrals to qualified specialists are preventative for worsening problems that may occur later in life. This includes issues such as mouth breathing, tethered oral tissues, and orofacial muscle tone issues. The referral and/or treatment of patients may be provided by an interdisciplinary healthcare team that includes COM®s, dentists, pediatricians, oral surgeons, ENTs, body work professionals and lactation consultants.
Toddlers and Preschoolers:
Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) in this age group may include issues with breathing, chewing, the oral preparatory phase of swallowing, tethered oral tissues, and oral rest postures. The preschool age group is an ideal time to address noxious parafunctional habits, such as thumbsucking or pacifier use, by utilizing habit elimination programs. Therapists use a non-invasive, positive reinforcement program to help eliminate these habits without the use of oral appliances. This age range requires compliance from the parent as well as the child. The treatment of patients may be provided by an interdisciplinary healthcare team that includes COM®s, dentists, oral surgeons, ENTs, sleep medicine specialists, and body work professionals.
School-aged Children and Adults:
This is a large range of ages and common issues include mouth breathing, tethered oral tissue restrictions, poor oral rest postures, and difficulty with chewing and the oral preparatory phase of swallowing. In this age range, patients may also be undergoing orthodontic treatment. Myofunctional therapy is an integral part of orthodontics and may shorten orthodontic treatment time, as well as preventing orthodontic relapse. Those patients experiencing TMJ pain and dysfunction, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) may also benefit from orofacial myofunctional therapy as part of an interdisciplinary plan of care. The older the patient, the more they may have developed compensations over time related to breathing, swallowing, and speech patterns. The treatment of patients may be provided by an interdisciplinary healthcare team that includes COM®s, dentists, oral surgeons, sleep medicine specialists, ENTs, and body work professionals.