Given the young age of most children affected with Orofacial Myofunctional disorders (OMD for short), it is absolutely essential that the entire family work with the child to help them and encourage them to further their own treatment. Because many of the treatment options require that the child exercise their tongue, face and throat in specific ways, encouraging a child to perform these exercises is essential to a successful treatment.
Additionally, each treatment program is different and different causes of OMD will call for different kinds of treatment options. We’ve listed the most common treatment options below, though different options do exist and may require other specific efforts on the part of the child and their family.
Facial and Tongue Resting Posture Exercises
Sometimes the issue is with a child’s face and tongue. In layman’s terms, the problem is with how the child lets their tongue and lips sit at rest. While this may not seem important, the fact is a child’s resting postures do a lot to determine how their faces move.
Teaching a child how to properly rest their face and lips can be done, though it can take some time. Some children pick it up quickly, others take months or years. This is why it’s best to start young.
The inability to swallow is a common symptom of OMDs. Because the tongue or the lips sit oddly, it can cause difficulties or even pain when trying to work the upper throat muscles. Teaching a child to properly exercise the muscles behind the motion of swallowing may be essential for a child to properly digest solid foods.
While the child is learning how to swallow, many children may need a liquid diet until their pediatrician suggests to their parents that the child is finally ready for solid food. Again, it’s best to start young if you notice issues with OMDs. That way the child will be able to get plenty of practice, hopefully learning beneficial techniques early enough to become reflex.
For children with speech impediments, speech therapy may be most essential to helping them grow up to function. Teaching a child how to use their mouth and tongue to speak takes time and parental involvement. Parents will need to help their children remember the exercises they learned to try and properly articulate themselves. After a while, a child should eventually learn how to speak in a way in which they can be understood, but this can take a while and often some physical development as well.
In general, surgical treatments are only used when the child’s OMD is causing an immediate medical problem. If the child has trouble breathing or can’t swallow at all, then they’re a good candidate for surgical fixes.
Having an OMD can be life-altering for a child, but it doesn’t have to be. Paying attention early on and getting treatment as soon as possible can go a long way to helping. Every child deserves a chance to succeed, after all!