Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)

Dr. Brenda K. Gorman, Contributing Author

The scope of speech-language pathology is so vast that it is challenging to thoroughly cover all disorders in graduate school. Orofacial myofunctional disorder is an area that many SLPs would like to learn more about.

What is OMD?

According to ASHA, OMD refers to “any pattern involving oral and/or orofacial musculature that interferes with normal growth, development, function of structures, or calls attention to itself.

What are the signs of OMD?

The International Association of Orofacial Myology indicates several signs that might be symptomatic of OMD. When the mouth is in rest position, the child may display habitual mouth breathing, parted lips (referred to as lip incompetence), forward tongue carriage and excessive tongue contact with the teeth (referred to as tongue thrust). The child may be particularly messy or drool when eating. When swallowing, the child may display tongue thrust, facial grimacing, gulping, and/or head bobbing upon completion of the swallow. The child may experience stomach discomfort due to inadequately chewed food. Lip tone may appear flaccid. The child may also appear to have a long face due to extended facial growth.

What are problems associated with OMD?

Oral myofunctional disorder contributes to improper orofacial development, dental growth, and misalignment of the teeth and jaw. The majority of children with OMD also have speech distortions and/or misarticulations, most noticeably on alveolar, palatal, and liquid phonemes. Speech therapy alone is often insufficient to remediate articulation errors that are related to OMD; orofacial myology treatment may also be necessary.

Who is qualified to treat OMD?

In these cases, treatment should be delivered by a professional with specific training in OMD. The International Association of Orofacial Myology provides a referral list of professionals, such as SLPs, dentists, and other health professionals, who have attained specific training and certification in this area. The goal of orofacial myology treatment is to improve muscle tone and posture to promote normal growth, development, and function, and research indicates that treatment is indeed effective.

For more information, see the following websites on OMD: