What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)?

By Xiu Ching Saw

OMT is a type of therapy that some speech and language therapists practice and have further specialised training in. They help children with Orofacial Myofunctional disorders (OMD) who as a result have difficulty with their swallowing, speaking or breathing.

OMT is the assessment and treatment of one’s face, jaw and mouth by targeting and working on one’s muscles of the face and mouth. To be able to speak, breathe and swallow, our muscles need to be in the correct position, coordinated and have the strength to do so.

Who might need OMT?

Signs and symptoms of someone who may have an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) may be individuals with a:

  • Tongue thrust (when the tongue thrusts forward between the teeth when speaking or swallowing)
  • Open mouth breathing at rest
  • Tongue tie
  • Snoring or other forms of sleep disordered breathing
  • Drooling
  • Misalignment in their teeth (crooked)
  • Clenching and grinding of teeth (bruxism)

How does OMT help?

Just like going to the gym to do sets of exercises to build up muscles in our body, OMT works through exercises that retrain the muscles of our face and mouth to ensure muscles are positioned correctly and that there is adequate strength, range of motion and endurance to sustain the position.

TONGUE RESTING POSTURE

Have you ever thought about where your tongue is sitting in your mouth? Is it suctioned up against the roof of your mouth? Or lying down at the bottom? Is only the tip of your tongue up against the roof of your mouth?

There is a large proportion of people who have improper tongue posture or positioning and it can hugely impact your oral health, jaw development, breathing, swallowing and more. Symptoms may present itself at various points in one’s life.

Improper or incorrect tongue resting posture can contribute or lead to:

  • Sleep disordered breathing including sleep apnoea
  • Stooped or poor body posture
  • TMJ issues
  • Incorrect development of the jaw and palate leading to dental and orthodontic issues such as crowding of teeth, open bites, teeth growing from the gums.

What is correct tongue resting posture?

Correct tongue resting posture should have the tongue suctioned against the hard palate (with 3 points of contact (tongue to spot, middle of the tongue and back part of tongue up against the palate). The lips should also be closed.

How does Orofacial Myofunctional therapy fix my tongue posture?

A trained orofacial myofunctional therapist will work with you to assess and examine the muscles of your face and tongue, and provide treatment which often includes daily exercises to retrain your muscles and improve its strength, uniformity and coordination to achieve the correct positioning in your mouth. We often also work closely with other health professionals including dentists, ENTs and body workers such as osteopaths.

Speech Ease has speech pathologists who have undertaken further training in this area and can help clients with OMT.

Looking for Speech Pathology Services in Melbourne?

Join the Speech Ease Waitlist today to start your journey with Speech Ease Speech Pathology!