The human body is a wondrously complex combination of tissue, bones and chemicals. To keep this mechanical marvel operating at its best, the body needs to properly coordinate its functions. However, as with any complicated system, when an important function of the body is thrown off, problems develop.

Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, tongue & throat. The act of swallowing is one function that depends on proper patterning. To swallow properly, muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks and throat must work together in harmony.

When a person swallows normally, the tip of the tongue presses firmly against the roof of the mouth or hard palate, located slightly behind the front teeth. The tongue acts as a "fulcrum," or starting point, that allows other muscles involved in swallowing to function normally. The hard palate, meanwhile, absorbs the force created by the tongue. 

Because a person swallows 500 to 1,000 times a day, it is easy to see how improper swallowing can cause a variety of problems. However, it is the rest position of the tongue that may influence proper functioning patterns most of all.

Serious dental problems may result from the improper function of muscles used in swallowing. When a person swallows incorrectly, the tip and/ or sides of the tongue press against or spread between the teeth. This is commonly called tongue thrust. 

Constant pressure from resting or incorrectly thrusting the tongue away from the hard palate may push teeth out of place. That pressure may later prevent teeth from erupting (breaking through the gum).

Oral myofunctional disorder may also lead to an abnormal bite-the improper alignment between the upper and lower teeth known as a malocclusion. This problem may lead to difficulties in biting, chewing, swallowing and digesting food. 

  • Incorrect swallowing or oral posture may lead to cosmetic problems.

  • Speech & other problems may also develop.

Orofacial therapy eliminates the causes of swallowing abnormalities.

  • Orofacial therapy is painless and the exercises are relatively simple. When certain muscles are activated and functioning properly, other muscles will follow suite until proper coordination of tongue and facial muscles is gained. 

    For success in this therapy, consistent exercise every day is necessary until the patient has subconsciously corrected their improper muscle pattern. It also takes constant commitment by the patient, parental support-and time. 

    Treatment usually consists of a regular program of exercises over a 4-to-12 month period, although length of treatment may vary. 

  • Orthodontic treatment often accompanies orofacial therapy.

  • Dental hygienists or speech pathologists are most often associated with orofacial therapy.

  • Orofacial therapy has provided a dramatic & positive influence on patients treated.