Orofacial myofunctional disorder is a general heading for a number of disorders that alter the face, jaw or tongue of a child, causing it to be asymmetrical. Most of the victims of this order are in fact children, and most of the time, its effects manifest in childhood rather than later in life.
While this may sound harmless, the fact is that an asymmetrical face can lead to a wide range of problems in a child’s development. Some of the most difficult of these issues are the abilities a child to breathe, eat, or speak clearly. Here we will examine some of the causes of this disorder.
Upper Airway Obstruction
Sometimes the upper airway of a child, typically in the highest reaches a child’s throat, may wind up obstructed. This is generally a result of allergies, though in other cases it’s the result of specific injuries a child may suffer.
This is obviously one of the worst problems that can crop up with OMDs, and are generally treated with surgical procedures.
Chronic Thumb or Finger Sucking
These disorders can also be caused by excessive thumb or finger sucking. While this is one of the reasons given to get a child to stop sucking their thumb at an early age, the truth is that this isn’t as common as other causes.
Still, it would be more healthy if your child stopped sucking their thumb earlier rather than later in life. If nothing else, it will help them with social situations.
Excessive Pacifier or Bottle Usage
Like sucking on their fingers, a child who uses pacifiers and bottles past the recommended age may be prone OMD issues. Removing these objects and feeding a child through a specialized cup after a certain age is intended specifically to prevent damage to a child’s lips, jaws and tongue.
Keep in mind that it’s not the occasional sucking that causes problems. It’s constant sucking over the course of years that can cause problems.
Orofacial Structural and Muscular Differences
Sometimes a child’s face simply has a difference in its muscular or bone structure. While the exact causes can range from injuries to the aforementioned excessive thumb sucking or allergic reactions, any alterations in a child’s orofacial structures can be problematic.
This does mean that some children can “grow out” of OMDs. However, you should never rely on that since there’s no assurance it will happen.
Sometimes problems with a child’s orofacial functions may be a simple roll of the genetic dice. Some children are simply born with some bad luck that alters their orofacial organs and complicates their early lives. There’s nothing that can be done to protect a child from this issue, since once a child is conceived the damage is already done.
At the end of the day, Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders are things that can only be moderately guarded against. There are some things that can cause the problem, but most of these things are more likely to aggravate an already existing problem than cause it on their own. Either way, it never hurts to be careful.