Dental Hygiene and OMT

A search of the literature will show there is in fact a lack of formal education throughout the field of myofunctional therapy in the United States, leading to an absence of official licensure or governing bodies. This lack of standardized training or licensing has been a barrier to recognition of OMT as a valid healthcare field. The majority of individuals practicing these therapy techniques are indeed licensed healthcare professionals, however, OMT typically serves only as an unofficial complement to the primary services provided.32 Historically, knowledge gained in this specialty is either self-taught, gained on-the-job, or passed down from a colleague. Current training opportunities for those interested in learning more about myofunctional therapy include: private mentoring from a current myofunctional therapist, short courses through academies or associations, or information learned within the educational curriculum.

Of the various disciplines utilizing OMT, it has been proposed that perhaps dental hygienists are in a prime position to recognize OMDs. There are many reasons for this point of view including: frequency of patient visits to a dental hygienist versus other medical provider, dental hygienists’ knowledge of orofacial anatomy, and their experience motivating patients and individualizing treatment.22,24 Historically, many dental hygienists have already been employing myofunctional therapy techniques in their respective practices, but simply lack a formal title or training due to limited training options available.

An argument could be made for the formal inclusion of OMD and OMT material in the dental hygiene curriculum. Structured training of dental hygienists to recognize OMDs, provide OMT referrals, or initiate patient education, could create higher levels of care for patients as well as expanded opportunities for the dental hygienist.41