The effectiveness of orofacial myofunctional therapy in improving dental occlusion

Article Source: PubMed
Author: Benkert KK

The most significant findings of this study definitively establish the beneficial effects of orofacial myofunctional therapy on improving dental occlusion, decreasing dental open bite, and decreasing dental overjet. The results reported are actually quite conservative because of the method of measuring. Measuring and recording every tooth unquestionably dilutes the results which would have been achieved if only the anterior teeth had been used in the calculations. Some may question the small millimeter change as being significant. The change is reflective of the overall relative value change of incorporating all teeth within the dental arches and not limiting the analysis to only the anterior teeth. The secondary findings of the study confirm that age is not necessarily a factor in predicting success of a therapy program. Further, this study indicates that improvement of open bite and overjet can result from OMT without prior or concurrent orthodontic intervention. Orofacial myofunctional therapy, from a public health standpoint, is a classic form of primary prevention to improve the overall health and well-being of the individual. The end result of OMT therapeutic programs is the establishment of new neuromuscular patterns, correction of functional and resting postures, correction of chewing/swallowing/feeding patterns and elimination of deleterious behaviors. Stabilization and maintenance of therapeutic goals become part of the lifelong learning and change process. Orofacial myofunctional therapy utilizes knowledge and skills acquired through multidisciplinary education and training. Licensed professionals, from dental hygiene, dentistry, speech pathology, medicine, nursing, and other allied health professions with advanced education and training in orofacial myofunctional therapy have demonstrated expertise in providing collaborative, integrated, and interdisciplinary primary care. Reference to earlier research works and anecdotal reports of ineffectiveness unfortunately perpetuate and reinforce the dichotomous quandary of form and function. Instead, recognition of the interrelationship of form and function, as conjoint fundamental processes, would encourage more pro-active patient referrals for orofacial myofunctional therapy services.

This would allow the specialty area of orofacial myology to further validate the effectiveness of OMT on tooth movement in a positive, collaborative, and beneficial manner. Acknowledging the small sample size in this study may encourage other clinicians to conduct future research in this area. Additional research is needed on the physiologic adaptive capacity of the orofacial environment. Developmental aspects of orofacial and jaw neurophysiology, especially in children, are scant in the literature. Treatment recommendations for specific dental malocclusions are based on many factors. Each malocclusion classification presents opportunity for OMT research. A major research dilemma for the practicing clinician is the moral and ethical responsibility of providing treatment when dysfunction is diagnosed. Designing a study and identifying a “control group” is difficult due to the unethical aspect of knowingly withholding therapy when the benefits are statistically proven and available. A study design using the sample as its own control can infer and demonstrate validity. The next logical test is replication of this study to determine the level of reliability. This issue of the I.J.O.M. addresses the effectiveness of orofacial myology treatment in improving speech articulation, eliminating digit sucking, and improving dental occlusion. It is time the professions of dental hygiene, dentistry, medicine, and speech pathology move forward and acknowledge current substantive research and literature that supports the philosophies of prevention, early interception (intervention), and corrective treatment. The dark ages of disbelief only remain dark as long as we forget to turn on the light. (ABSTRACT TRU
PMID: 9487828 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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