Oral Habits


Poor oral habits include a wide spectrum of habits including, thumb sucking, finger sucking, blanket sucking, tongue sucking, soother/pacifier use, lip sucking, lip licking, mouth breathing, and nail biting, among others.

These habits can alter the normal muscle balance in the face, resulting in an orofacial myofunctional disorder, which can have a negative impact on facial growth.

Thumb sucking is the most recognized oral habit that is widely understood to negatively affect the growth of the jaws and the teeth.

When the thumb is in the mouth it displaces the tongue so it is not resting fully in the palate.

The light forces of the lips and the cheeks pulling in, back and down on the upper jaw are no longer opposed by the light force of the tongue in the palate so the upper jaw does not grow as wide, forward or high as normal.

The long term position of the thumb in the mouth pushes the upper front teeth forward and the lower front teeth backward in the mouth.

A variety of negative affects on the growth of the jaw can occur with different poor oral habits.

Finger sucking, blanket sucking, soother use, mouth breathing and other poor oral habits can displace the tongue from its normal resting position in the palate with associated negative affects on facial growth.

Basic treatment aims of orofacial myofunctional therapy is to reeducate the movement of muscles, restore correct swallowing patterns, and establish adequate labial-lingual postures. An interdisciplinary nature of treatment is always desirable to reach functional goals in terms of swallowing, speech, and other esthetic factors.

A team approach has been shown to be effective in correcting orofacial myofunctional disorders. The teams include an orthodontist, dental hygienist, certified orofacial myologist, general dentist, otorhinolaryngologist, and a speech-language pathologist.

Goals/benefits of therapy
1. Reinforce and establish a resting posture of the tongue away from the teeth, against the hard palate.

2. Establish appropriate oral, lingual, and facial muscle patterns that promote correct gestures for chewing and eating.

3. Retrain oral, lingual, and facial muscles to facilitate correct resting posture of tongue, lips, and jaw.

4. Establish mature swallowing patterns.

5. Prevent relapses after orthodontic treatment.

6. Improve relationship between dental arches; reduce open bite and overjet.

7. Improve nasal breathing patterns. 

8. Maintain overall facial muscle tone needed for chewing, swallowing, and speech

9. Create an oral environment that creates favorable conditions for development of dentition.

10. Eliminate open-mouth posture.

11. Eliminate dry mouth condition or xerostomia.

12. Improve oral hygiene.

13. Eliminate digit-sucking behaviors to facilitate normal growth of the palatal arch.


My Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy programs include:
1. Habit elimination therapy.
2. Exercises to improve nasal breathing and oral facial functions.
3. Teaching and promoting proper chewing, breathing, and swallowing.
4. Re-patterning head and neck posture problems.
5. Generalization and habituation of the new muscle patterns.  
6. Emotional balancing

Parental involvement is very important to a child's success, and key to that success is a supportive environment that provides consistent encouragement and motivation necessary for positive and permanent change.

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