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Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is used to treat Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD). OMD's occur when there is is abnormal function or tone of the orofacial muscles including the lips, tongue, jaw and face.

In most instances, OMD starts in childhood whilst children are growing rapidly. Children quite often learn compensatory muscle patterns or habits which lead to OMD as a result of a number of factors, including:

  • extended thumb, finger, tongue or pacifier sucking

  • habits such as nail biting, cheek or lip biting, chewing on clothes or blankets

  • a restricted airway

  • structural or physiological anomalies such as a restrictive tongue frenum (tongue-tie)

  • neurological or developmental abnormalities

  • a genetic predisposition to the above factors

OMD can cause:

  • abnormal swallowing patterns

  • mouth breathing or open mouth posture

  • snoring, sleep apnoea & poor sleep

  • poor posture

  • pain or discomfort of the face, jaw joint or mouth

  • poor speech

  • asymmetrical appearance of the lips and/or face

  • crooked and crowded teeth


At Happy Faces we conduct a thorough examination to get to the root cause of the OMD. We then provide a comprehensive and individualised treatment program consisting of non-invasive and painless exercises and reminder techniques to establish ideal oral conditions including: nasal breathing, sealed lips at rest, ideal tongue-rest position and a mature swallow. 

Mouth breathing or Open mouth posture


Human beings are designed to breathe through their noses with their lips closed together. Breathing this way enables the nasal passages to filter, warm and moisten the air. Occasional mouth breathing
due to a cold or strenuous exercise in not a cause for concern. However, some people breathe primarily through their mouth (chronic mouth breathing) which can signal that some type of intervention or
re-training on how to breath through the nose is needed.


Why is mouth breathing a problem?


Chronic mouth breathing is associated with several health complications including:


  • Increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease

  • Increased risk of poor sleep, snoring and sleep apnoea

  • Pain in the jaw joint (TMD)

  • Bad breath


In children mouth breathing is linked with:

  • Poor sleep

  • Abnormal growth of the face and palate

  • Crooked teeth and crowded mouths

  • Behavioural and learning difficulties

  • Poor concentration

  • Hyperactivity

  • ADHD-type behaviour

  • Recurrent tonsilitis and/or ear infections


How do you know if you or someone else is a mouth breather?


  • People who primarily breathe through their mouths usually have their mouth slightly open
    and their lips parted

  • Noisy or audible breathing when awake or asleep (breathing should be very quiet)

  • Chronic bad breath


Mouth breathing is a highly treatable condition, the earlier it is picked up and treated the less likely it
is that negative, long-term complications will arise. To treat mouth breathing effectively it is important
to understand why an individual is mouth breathing. At Happy Faces we will conduct a thorough assessment to get to the root cause of mouth breathing so that we can plan a successful course of treatment. Sometimes this involves working with other health practitioners to get the best result possible.


Thumb, Finger and Dummy Sucking


If you’ve found your way to this page you’ve probably tried everything and are at your wits end. You are probably starting to worry about the effects thumb or dummy sucking will have on your childs teeth and jaws. But getting your little one to quit a habit can be extremely stressful for the whole family.

At Happy Faces we will start with an assessment to determine why this habit is ongoing, once we know the reason, we have the greatest chance of stopping it! To be successful in stopping a habit it’s important that we get the child on board, because of this we don’t treat children with habits until the age of 5. Once they hit this age, we will work with the child to help them understand the importance of quitting their habit. We will tailor a custom "quit program" that is suited to their individual needs and interests that they will find fun and engaging.

Let us take some of the stress away and work with your child to quit oral habits and improve the growth of their face and jaws.


Jaw and Facial pain

We use the muscles in our face and jaw every day for necessary activities like eating, swallowing and talking, so pain in these areas can be a debilitating condition that can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Jaw and facial pain can be complex as it often results from many factors including an imbalance in the function of the orofacial muscles, mouth breathing, sleep disorders, structural and psychological influences.

The good news is that Orofacial Myofunctional therapy has been found to be a suitable treatment option for jaw and facial pain that is less invasive and costly then surgery or dental treatment. Therapy starts with determining the root cause of the pain so that an effective treatment plan can be mapped out. Sometimes this involves collaborating with other health professionals like chiropractors, osteopaths or physiotherapists to get the best result possible. To treat jaw and facial pain we will aim to restore correct muscle function as well as obtain ideal tongue rest posture, chewing and breathing patterns.

Through regular exercises and reminder techniques we can work towards pain free movement of the muscles of the face and jaw.


A tongue-tie or Ankyloglossia is a relatively common physical condition whereby an abnormally short “lingual frenum” limits the movement of the tongue.

A “lingual frenum” is a normal part of oral anatomy. It is the band of tissue that attaches the middle of the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If you look in the mirror under your tongue you will see it. When this frenum is abnormally short it restricts movement of the tongue which often results in other muscles of the mouth and face compensating.


In babies, tongue-tie is linked with:

  • Breastfeeding difficulties

  • Poor weight gain

  • Excessive dribbling

  • Reflux

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Issues settling

These problems should be discussed with your pediatrician and your child evaluated for tongue-tie by an experienced medical professional, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant or Orofacial Myologist.

In older children and adults, a tongue tie is linked with:

  • Inability to swallow normally

  • Sleep disordered breathing

  • Increased cavities and gum disease

  • Dental issues such as open bite, crooked teeth, or overbite

  • Jaw pain


Diagnosis of a tongue-tie should be done by a trained medical or dental professional who will carry out a visual inspection as well as a functional assessment of the tongue. At Happy Faces we always start with myofunctional therapy to improve function of the tongue but in some cases, a referral for surgical correction is needed. A lingual frenectomy is a common, relatively painless, low-risk procedure where the frenum is cut or removed. It is a simple procedure that can make a significant difference to function and growth.

If surgical correction is necessary, we recommend pre-and post-operative myofunctional therapy to ensure the best outcome, as a tongue-tie will usually lead to the development of compensatory muscle patterns which can persist post-surgery. Myofunctional therapy will address these compensations and restore ideal function.

Sleep Disordered Breathing

Sleep Disordered Breathing (or SDB) is a broad term that refers to any condition where breathing is disrupted or abnormal during sleep including snoring and sleep apnoea. The result of SDB includes poor quality or disrupted sleep. In the short term, SDB can be frustrating and exhausting for sufferers (and the parents of sufferers!), in the long term it can lead to more serious health issues including chronic fatigue, high blood pressure and stroke. In children SDB is associated with developmental delay, failure to thrive and behavioural or learning problems.

It is thought that as many as 3 out of 10 people suffer from some type of SDB – that’s a lot of people who are not getting enough quality sleep!

Often the treatment of SDB requires a holistic approach and can involve a number of health professionals. The role of an Orofacial Myologist in this instance is to strengthen the orofacial muscles, establishing nasal breathing, ensure correct tongue rest posture and maintain closed lips at rest all of which can help keep the airways open during sleep.


Tongue-Thrust & Posture

A tongue thrust is a very common orofacial myofunctional disorder. It occurs when the tongue moves forward against and in between the front teeth at rest or when swallowing. It is a normal reflex that babies are born with that helps with feeding. However, this reflex should disappear around the age of 6 months so that babies can move on to solid foods without pushing to much of it out of their mouths. In some cases, a tongue thrust will continue beyond this point and as the tongue is a very strong and important muscle it can impact:


  • Speech development

  • Growth of the jaws and face

  • Position of the teeth leading to an open bite – this is when the front teeth don’t touch when the teeth are closed together.


How do you know if someone has a tongue thrust issue?


  • Messy eating and poor saliva control i.e. Drooling, spitting when talking

  • The tongue is visible between the teeth. The tip of the tongue sticks out between the teeth,  whether resting, swallowing, or speaking.

  • Mouth breathing

  • Open bite. If your child is having orthodontic treatment, the orthodontist may be struggling to correct the open bite as an ongoing tongue thrust pattern will complicate treatment.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy addresses this issue by retraining the tongue muscles to function in an optimal way. This treatment can be done at any age but if picked up in childhood we have the opportunity to encourage ideal growth and development of the face, jaws and teeth by teaching ideal tongue rest posture and mature swallow patterns.

Book a treatment now

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