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Franklin Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Young boy during dental examAt Paige Prather Smiles, we offer a wide range of dental care solutions for patients at all ages and stages of dental development. Now, that includes orofacial myofucntional therapy. These treatments are often referred to simply as “tongue thrust” therapies, but orofacial myofunctional services include so much more than simply helping kids and adults learn to reposition the tongue. For many patients, orofacial myofunctional therapy can mean the difference between a lifetime of struggles with oral and whole body health issues and the opportunity to effortlessly speak, chew, and smile with confidence. If you want to learn more about orofacial myofunctional therapy or any of our other oral health services, call Paige Prather Smiles to schedule a treatment consultation in our family-friendly Franklin dentistry office today.


What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?

Young woman examining facial symmetry Orofacial myofunctional therapy, typically referred to simply as OMT, is treatment geared toward teaching the oral and facial structures to rest in the proper position to avoid muscle and joint strain, dental damage, breathing issues, and other conditions. Proper rest posture is described as a closed mouth, tongue resting on the palate (top of the mouth), slightly separated molars (back teeth), and nasal breathing. Any deviation from this ideal rest posture can lead to health concerns. For instance, a patient who clenches teeth together all day long rather than allowing them to remain apart may struggle with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction due to excessive strain placed on these joints that connect the jaw to the skull bone. Patients whose tongues rest forward against the teeth or between them can exacerbate orthodontic alignment concerns like over, under, and crossbite. In the past, medical and dental professionals have focused treatment on just tackling one symptom at a time, but when the underlying cause isn’t addressed, patients are much more likely to relapse and experience further concerns. That’s where OMT comes in. These therapies address the underlying causes of the concern and help patients learn to keep proper resting position. A number of different oral health and developmental concerns may lead to a need for OMT, including:


What are the Warning Signs?

Young boy receiving dental examThe most obvious warning sign of OMT is tongue thrust. That’s why so many people get the idea that treating this oral health concern is the purpose of OMT. However, this is only one of many warning signs that you may need OMT. The most common symptoms that you may need OMT include:


What Happens During OMT?

Smiling young girl in dental chair holding up x-raysYour OMT plan may include a number of different treatments. The most important aspect of treatment is teaching our brain to notice the position of your mouth at rest. Then, each time the incorrect posture is perceived, a change is made. Additionally, patients may be instructed to perform daily stretches and jaw movement exercises to help train the jaw to rest more naturally. We may also create custom oral appliances to help maintain the ideal resting posture during sleep. In many cases, orthodontic treatments are also needed to address misaligned bite.


Meet Chelsea, Our In-House Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist

Chelsea Madison, Lead Dental HygienistDr. Prather has a special place in her heart for young patients, and she and her team offer a wide range of dental treatments for infants and kids to help them develop healthy smiles. Lip and tongue tie treatment is one of Dr. Prather’s area of special interest, which has naturally lead to a desire to offer OMT in the Franklin dental office. For many young patients, their condition begins when tongue tie forces them to hold their mouth in a less-than-ideal position, leading to dysfunction. In addition to bringing years of advanced training to the table through Dr. Prather’s skilled care, we also have a certified orofacial myofunctional therapist in the office. Chelsea is our lead dental hygienist, and she has also completed advanced training in OMT. She loves helping patients of all ages learn to recognize the signs of improper bite positioning and working with them to receive the care they need. If you or your child need OMT, Chelsea and Dr. Prather will work with you one on one to create a treatment plan that delivers a beautiful, functional smile, improved speech, and a healthier, happier life.


Common Misconceptions About OMT

Many patients believe OMT is just therapy for patients with tongue thrust. This is not the case. The treatments will help patients with tongue thrust, but this is just a symptom of a bigger problem, so the goal of OMT is address the underlying causes of these disorders rather than simply helping patients stop thrusting their tongues while swallowing, chewing, speaking, or at rest. Additionally, many people think that only kids need to receive OMT. While the majority of patients who receive OMT are young, adults may also benefit from these treatments to improve clarity of speech, restore healthy dental function, increase the benefits of sleep apnea therapy, and more. Finally, many people consider OMT to be unnecessary. If a child naturally develops in a different way, why should we force them to change? In most cases, we agree with you. We want kids to be themselves! However, when patients in need of OMT don’t receive the care they need, the results can be detrimental to oral and overall health, increasing risk for orthodontic alignment issues, tooth decay, TMJ dysfunction, sleep apnea, and speech impediment among other concerns. If you or your child need OMT, let our team help you develop healthy, natural function that looks and feels great for years to come.