If I’m a myofunctional therapist who does myofunctional therapy, then what is orofacial myology, and what’s an orofacial myologist?
This is a question that comes up occasionally, usually when I’m meeting with a potential patient for the first time. Anyone who’s done some research on oral myofunctional disorders such as mouth breathing, a tongue thrust swallowing pattern, or a tongue-tie will find both myofunctional therapists and orofacial myologists offering their services online.
So What Is Orofacial Myology?
Basically, we’re looking at different terms for the same thing.
Myofunctional therapy is known by a number of different names, which can be quite confusing!
I’ve heard it called myofunctional therapy, orofacial myology, oral myofunctional therapy, orofacial myofunctional therapy, tongue thrust therapy, and more but they’re really all the same thing.
Technically, myofunctional therapy as I practice it should be known as oral myofunctional therapy. This is because myofunctional means “Relating to function of muscles”. So myofunctional therapy could refer to any therapy that involves the muscles.
But, myofunctional also has another definition:
“In dentistry, relating to the role of muscle function in the etiology or correction of orthodontic problems.”
This explains why myofunctional therapy has generally come to refer specifically to the treatment of oral myofunctional disorders. There’s a training organization that continues to use the terms “orofacial myology” and “orofacial myologist”. So their graduates tend to refer to themselves that way, but I’ve found that myofunctional therapy is better recognized and clearer to most people.
The term “tongue thrust therapy”, on the other hand was created to try to simplify the terminology. I think it’s too limiting and simplistic a term because it implies that all we do in the field is treat tongue thrust swallowing patterns when of course, this isn’t the case.
What Does A Myofunctional Therapist Do?
I like the definition below. It’s from my What Is Myofunctional Therapy – Infographic.
“Myofunctional therapy is an exercise-based treatment modality. It’s just like doing physical therapy, only for symptoms and conditions related to the face, mouth and jaws. If your tongue rests low in your mouth, or if you’re breathing through your mouth, then this is a strong sign that you need myofunctional therapy.”
In addition to helping with the aforementioned tongue-thrust swallowing pattern, I also work with patients who have issues such as sleep apnea, mouth breathing, TMJ and facial pain, problems with speech, tongue-ties etc.
No matter what you call it, I consider myself lucky that practicing in the field of myofunctional therapy makes it easy for me to be able to help so many different people.
This video from my YouTube channel also covers this topic.