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Orofacial Myology

Orofacial myology is the study and treatment of the muscles and functions of the mouth and face including the airway.

Why is Orofacial Myology important?

Orofacial myology is important because it plays a fundamental role in promoting proper oral and facial muscle function, which can impact a person's health and well-being. By addressing issues related to the muscles of the mouth, face, and tongue, orofacial myology helps to correct swallowing disorders, speech difficulties, and improper oral habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrusting. Additionally, it can aid in managing conditions like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) and sleep-disordered breathing. Through targeted therapies and exercises, orofacial myology aims to improve overall oral health including breathing, enhance speech sound production, improve biting, chewing and swallowing and contribute to better orthodontic and facial development. By focusing on muscle balance and coordination, this specialised field of therapy helps individuals achieve optimal oral function, improved posture, swallowing, speech, breathing and sleep.

Child Model
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Orofacial Myology at Beyond Speech

At Beyond Speech, an initial Orofacial Myology session will involve an assessment by one of our Senior Speech Pathologists who have specialist training in Orofacial Myology, together with our Therapy Assistant, Lize Szarek. Lize has a background in dental assistance and specialist training in Orofacial Myology.  The assessment will determine if ongoing therapy is required and if so, a treatment plan will be developed by the Orofacial Myology team and implemented by the Therapy Assistant. 

Success of Orofacial Myology therapy is dependent on consistent, weekly attendance, and daily home practice for the duration of the therapy block. It is important to book your therapy block during a period when regular attendance and practise is possible.

 

Collaborative approach to client care

The Beyond Speech Orofacial Myology (OM) Program is enhanced by our close collaboration with other professionals who can support successful client care.  During our initial assessment, we not only look at the client’s muscles but also dental structures and airway function. 

Part of our OM Therapy focuses on lip seal and nasal breathing to enable correct tongue posture at rest where the tongue sits up in the palate (roof of the mouth). In the case where we suspect that the client’s airway is blocked or not working as well as it should, we may refer clients to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. An ENT can also assess if Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) is present. 

Another factor that impacts oral function and success of therapy is Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTs) such as a tongue tie and/or a lip tie. These are part of the fascial system (connective tissue that surrounds our muscles) and run from our tongue right down to our toes. Tight fascia can restrict the range of motion of the tongue and upper lip which can impact breastfeeding, speech, swallowing and growth and development of the dental arch. We may refer clients to a Specialist Dentist or a Maxillofacial Surgeon who specialises in releasing tongue and lip ties. It will be important that a number of exercises are completed before and after a release to ensure correct healing and a successful outcome. 

 

As fascial tissue (including tight oral tissues) runs from your head to your toes, we will also refer clients to an Osteopath who specialises in fascial release throughout the whole body as this will ensure the success of our program.

When the tongue rests on the floor of the mouth due to a tongue tie or open mouth posture, the palate is not supported to grow wide and forward and subsequently develops a vertical growth pattern (long, narrow face).  The upper arch then develops into a narrow v-shape which leads to dental crowding and lack of space for the tongue. To regain the space needed for the tongue and teeth, we may refer clients to a Functional Jaw Orthopaedic (FJO) Dentist or Orthodontist with special training in airway focused orthodontics to develop the dental arch and enhance success of OM therapy by allowing space for the tongue and correct teeth crowding.

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