Restore the harmony between the muscles and joints of your jaw.

Did you know your jaw is joined together by two of the most complex joints in your entire body? After all, the temporomandibular joints work together to move your jaw up, down, side to side, forward, and back—an incredible range of motion for joints! This range of motion is accomplished through the complex relationship between your temporomandibular joints and the surrounding muscles of your lips and face, which work together to help you eat, speak, swallow, express emotions, and more. You can see how important for these muscles and joints to work to together properly. If they don’t, you may be experiencing an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder.

When part of this complex network of joints and muscles isn’t functioning correctly, however, it can create a ripple effect, leading to jaw pain as well as a surprising number of symptoms throughout the body. Some of these symptoms seem so random that many patients don’t connect the dots between them until after they’ve been diagnosed, which just goes to show how complex and amazingly interconnected the human body is. Thankfully, this relationship can benefit you too. Restoring the harmony between your joints and muscles can resolve your symptoms, helping you feel healthier overall. We know the relationship between your TMJ and orofacial muscles can seem complex, so we’ve broken it down to help you better understand your symptoms and whether or not you may need to be evaluated for an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder.

What is OMD?

Orofacial myofunctional disorder is a disorder in the muscles of the face and lips that causes these muscles to adopt abnormal movement patterns. Since the relationship between your jaw and the muscles in your face and lips is so complex, this disorder can impact actions as simple as chewing, swallowing, and speaking. It can also impact the appearance of your face and cause or contribute to a surprising range of oral and overall health issues.


There are several potential causes for an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder, many of which originate in childhood. A common thread in the causes of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder is that they impact the way you use the muscles of your face and lips. Your muscles become trained to function in this new way, causing muscles to carry out jobs, hold positions they wouldn’t normally, or get used much less often than they otherwise would. This can make some muscles weaker than they should be and impact the way they function together. Common causes include:

  • Airway insufficiencies, like allergies and enlarged tonsils or adenoids, particularly when the nasal passages are obstructed
  • Tongue tie, which is when the bit of tissue connecting the tongue to the floor of the mouth is either too thick or too short, making it difficult to swallow or position the tongue normally
  • Clenching or grinding teeth
  • Chewing on fingernails or the inside of your cheek
  • Developmental delays
  • Neurological problems
  • Thumb sucking or pacifier use past the age of three years old
  • Hereditary predisposition


Since there are many potential causes of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder, there’s also a wide range of symptoms, not all of which will impact everyone with an OMD. These symptoms include habitual mouth breathing, constantly parted lips, improper swallowing, speech problems like a lisp or other speech impediment, and orthodontic issues. Incorrect oral posture, which is when your tongue presses against or between your teeth instead of resting gently against the roof of your mouth, is also a common symptom of an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder. The constant pressure of your tongue against your teeth can also cause persistent orthodontic issues, where your teeth begin shifting again even after you’ve straightened them. This is because your tongue is exerting constant pressure on your teeth, shifting them out of place. Thankfully, treating your Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder with myofunctional therapy can resolve the root cause of your teeth shifting, ensuring your orthodontic treatments remain permanent.

An Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder can also cause you to develop temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, which can lead to a range of symptoms like a painful jaw, frequent headaches or migraines, muscle soreness in the neck, shoulders, and back, temporary hearing loss, and more. In addition to symptoms directly related to your jaws and orofacial muscles, an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder can cause or contribute to a range of symptoms that involve your overall health. Improper swallowing or chewing can lead to stomach aches from swallowing too much air or not chewing your food enough, while narrow airways can worsen or cause obstructive sleep apnea or sleep disordered breathing.

This list of symptoms might sound overwhelming, but they’re not inevitable; every case is different, so no one will have every single one of these symptoms. Plus, the symptoms you do have aren’t here to stay. In fact, treating an Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder and relieving symptoms like these is likely easier than you’re expecting. The first step toward feeling better is even easier: getting evaluated.


If these symptoms sound familiar and you suspect you might have an OMD, the best thing to do is call our Ada family dentistry office to schedule an evaluation with the best dentist near Ada, Oklahoma. During your evaluation, your dentist will examine your teeth, jaws, tongue, and airway, looking for any abnormalities like a tongue tie, enlarged tonsils, or orthodontic issues. They may also pay attention to details like the appearance of your face, especially when it’s relaxed, the way you swallow and speak, and whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth.


Thankfully, myofunctional therapy for OMD tends to be incredibly simple. In large part, treatment is a matter of strengthening the muscles in your cheeks, lips, tongue, face, and jaw and retraining them to function together properly. This is surprisingly easy, simply requiring you to practice simple, easy exercises daily for six to 12 months. In the long run, the best way of treating OMDs is to take a holistic approach, working with several different specialists to address every angle of how your specific case impacts you. During your treatment, you may also receive treatment from an orthodontist, allergist, or a sleep doctor in addition to treatment from your dentist at Ada family dentistry. Since everyone’s case is different, the specialists you work with and the length of your treatment will be different from others, and that’s OK! It means you’re receiving the best care for you, specifically designed to give you the best results possible.

Work with your Ada Smile Place dentist to resolve your jaw issues.

It’s amazing how much of an impact something as seemingly localized as the muscles and joints of your jaws can have on the rest of your body, isn’t it? The ripple effect they can have on your entire body can work for or against you, and it’s the job of myofunctional therapy to ensure it’s working for you! Once your treatment is complete, you’ll likely feel better in ways you didn’t expect to, from fewer headaches and stomach issues to increased confidence in your smile. If you’d like to learn more about myofunctional therapy and how it could help you, feel free to call at any time to schedule an appointment at Ada Smile Place.