Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Pediatric Rehabilitation

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders

Contact Information

(608) 263-8412

UW Health's pediatric rehabilitation specialists in Madison, Wisconsin, provide a multidisciplinary approach to your child's rehabilitation.

Orofacial myofunctional disorders involve behaviors and patterns created by inappropriate muscle function and incorrect habits involving the tongue, lips, jaw and face. A tongue thrust is the most common orofacial myofunctional disorder.

Tongue thrusting involves movement of the tongue either forward or sideways against or between the teeth during the act of swallowing and while at rest. The unwanted pressure from the tongue against the teeth can impact negatively on dental alignment and jaw growth. Speech patterns may also be affected. It is also possible for the tongue thrust to have a negative affect on the normal functioning of the temporomandibular joint.

Our specially trained staff begins with an assessment that confirms or rules out a tongue thrust, identifies the potential causes of tongue thrust and determines treatment candidacy. Should a treatment program be recommended, the therapist works directly with the patient teaching him/her exercises that retrain patterns of muscle function for the development and habituation of a proper
swallowing pattern and mouth rest posture.

Parent education and training is also a critical and key component of our program. Correction of the tongue thrust and inappropriate mouth rest posture frequently allows for quicker progress to be made in an orthodontic treatment program as well as help with retention of teeth following the removal of braces.

Treatment length varies, but can typically be completed within 1 to 1 ½ years and involves 20-25 sessions.

In addition to the evaluation and treatment for tongue thrusting, our clinic offers a behaviorally based program for the elimination of digit sucking. Based on a child’s motivation to quit sucking and positive reinforcement, a child learns to exercise self control to gradually eliminate their habit during the day as well as at night. Often, the child will extinguish digit sucking within 2-3 months.