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This post is the third in a multi part series on the diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of OMDs. If you haven’t read parts 1 and 2 yet, I recommend you do before continuing.
Effects of OMDs on facial skeletal growth and development
Next up; facial skeletal growth and development. Many OMDs can have a negative impact on the development of the bones of the face, but one of the most common is tongue thrust. When a human swallows, we use the muscles of our mouth, jaw, and throat in concert to create the necessary force and pressure. In a normal swallow, that force passes from the tongue to the hard palate – the part of the roof of the mouth directly behind the front teeth. The hard palate is designed to take that force, so it’s no big deal, even though the average person swallows around 1000 times per day, transferring that force to the hard palate each and every time.
In a tongue thrust, the tongue pushes against the teeth rather than the hard palate. Over time, this moves the teeth, leading to what is known as an open bite. Until the tongue thrust is corrected, orthodontics will be useless in aligning the teeth – the tongue will just push them back out of alignment once the braces are removed.
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the joint that forms the connection between the jaw and the skull. Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is a painful condition that affects this joint. Symptoms include pain in one or both TMJs, aching, clicking, locking of the joint or joints, difficulty in chewing or pain while chewing, and more.
The precise causes of TMD can be difficult to determine and vary from case to case. However, for many sufferers of TMD, OMT can provide relief by strengthening the muscles of the face and jaw and retraining them so that they have the proper posture.
Check back soon for The importance of diagnosing and treating OMDs, part 4. In the meantime, check out our page on treatment of OMDs.