A Registered Dental Hygienist
and Orofacial Myologist.
Nichole Skelton, RDH, BSc(DH), IAOM Certification Track - Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy
College of Registered Dental Hygienists of Alberta
Canadian Dental Hygienist Association
International Association of Orofacial Myology
University of Alberta graduate, Edmonton, Alberta
Passionate about the field of Orofacial Myology, Nichole has seen the benefits in her own life and is anxiously engaged in educating and working to improve the lives of those around her!
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
The name itself, is definitely a mouthful! "Oro" refers to the mouth, "facial" refers to the face, and "myo," refers to the muscles. So when put altogether, Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is therapy related to the function of the muscles in the mouth and face. With 40 muscles in your face and 8 muscles in your tongue, they work together just like gears in a clock, to carry out very important jobs, including speaking, chewing, swallowing, and keeping your airway open so you can breathe.
In architecture, there is a common phrase, “Form Dictates Function and Function Dictates Form.” The same is true in the development of our mouths and faces. We know that elements, such as genetics, guide our appearance. Other influencing factors that are often overlooked are consistent or frequent forces, which can alter the form and function of oral and facial growth. Such forces include muscles (which can be under- or over-used), thumb sucking or other negative oral habits, and tethered oral tissues (commonly known as lip- or tongue-tie). Not only do these forces affect the aesthetics of the mouth, teeth, and face, but also can lead to health complications and painful symptoms. Although some of these forces are influenced by genetic, chromosomal, or other factors that may be present at birth, it does not mean that changes can't be made - positively impacting the health and development of an individual.
Orofacial Myology thoroughly assesses all these issues, collaborating with a community of allied health professionals to provide appropriate referrals and care. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy provides an individualized retraining treatment program to achieve it's goals.
Myofunctional Therapy is beneficial for individuals of all ages. Ideally, the earlier a client can eliminate these problems, the better. Therefore, providing myofunctional therapy to children yields immeasurable benefits - creating functional muscular patterns, eliminating negative habits, and releasing restrictive forces, helping to prevent the onset of Oral Myofunctional Disorders, while still early in life.