Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) include conditions such as ankyloglossia, tongue thrust, incorrect tongue position during swallowing or speech, open mouth posture and/or insufficient lip closure, and other parafunctional habits such as thumb sucking or bruxism. Due to the nature of OMDs, several orofacial structures and processes can be affected, including proper palatal formation, dental occlusion, facial growth and development, breathing, sleeping, speech, and swallowing patterns. Treatment for many OMDs exists in the form of orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT), which typically consists of retraining exercises for the lips, tongue, or facial muscles, as well as behavior modification or elimination. The goal of OMT is to correct improper orofacial muscle movements and postures and to restore natural functioning. Unfortunately, many OMDs develop and remain uncorrected throughout an individual’s lifetime, due to a lack of patient resources as well as a shortage of health professionals properly trained to treat OMDs. The purpose of this course is to increase awareness of OMDs, discuss the role of dental professionals in recognizing and addressing OMDs, and promote the use of OMT as an adjunct to traditional dental services.
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