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Orofacial myology or myofunctional therapy is a specialized professional discipline that evaluates and treats a variety of oral and facial (orofacial) muscle (myo-) postural and functional disorders and habit patterns that may disrupt normal dental development, impact airway development, and create cosmetic or occlusal problems.
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)
FAQs in the Area of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
Anyone with a professional healthcare license (i.e. RDH, DDS, SLP, OT, MD, RN, PT, etc.) may attend most continuing education courses in myofunctional therapy. While certification is not necessary to practice orofacial myofunctional therapy, many organizations are providing certifications such as COMT℠, COM®, QOM, or CSOM.* Clinicians practicing orofacial myofunctional therapy may be self-employed or employed by speech therapists, ENTs, dentists, orthodontists, and pediatric dentists, or physical therapists.
*Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist, Certified Orofacial Myologist, Qualified Orofacial Myologist, Certified Specialist in Orofacial Myology.
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is an interdisciplinary practice that works with the muscles of the lips, tongue, cheeks, and face and their related functions (such as breathing, sucking, chewing, swallowing, and some aspects of speech). It acts in the prevention, evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of people who may have these functions compromised or altered. It also acts in improving facial aesthetics. In this area, the Specialist in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy can work in partnership with other professionals such as dentists, doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nutritionists, nurses, and psychologists.
Orofacial myofunctional disorders can lead to many orthodontic and dental problems and are implicated in sleep-disordered breathing. When left untreated, these OMDs can negatively impact quality of life. Examples can be found in the Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder Matrix, which can be viewed below in either image or video format.
(Click on images to enlarge.)
These matrices was created by the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy. You can buy your own matrix posters from their store.
Many Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) can be detected in infancy and treated with the help of a knowledgeable team of pediatric dentists, occupational therapists, lactation professionals, and others. Early treatment of OMDs can prevent the cascade of dental and medical problems seen in the pictures above. However, treatment of OMDs can be accomplished throughout life when the patient is motivated and compliant.
There are many educational paths to consider and several esteemed courses to help you get started. Currently, in the United States, at least six organizations are offering introductory courses in myofunctional therapy with more on the horizon. Programs include:
“Be it resolved that CDHA acknowledges that the scope of dental hygiene practice includes the assessment and evaluation of orofacial myofunctional dysfunction; and further advocates that dental hygienists complete advanced clinical and didactic continuing education prior to providing treatment. CDHA supports hygienists treating orofacial myofunctional disorders without supervision, to patients of all ages, in collaboration with licensed healthcare professionals.”
AOMT Find a Therapist Near You
IAOM Directory of Orofacial Myologists
Academy of Applied Myofunctional Sciences
Alabama Tongue-Tie Center's Video Resource Library
The Breathe Institute: Lecture Videos
International Association of Airway Hygienists
MedlinePlus: Sleep Disorders