Orofacial Myology [Myofunctional Therapy] for Adults

Learn how orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) helps with oral myofunctional disorders.
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Certified specialist with 5 years of extensive dental and orthodontic experience
Orofacial Myology [Myofunctional Therapy] for Adults: Exercises, Before & After
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Did you ever stop to think about how the resting position of your tongue can have an effect on your day-to-day activities? It's quite thoughtful how something as seemingly simple as tongue posture can impact your ability to eat, speak clearly, and even affect the way you look.

The good news is that you have the power to correct an abnormal tongue position with orofacial myofunctional therapy. With the holistic approach of oromyofacial therapy, you can not only get rid of tongue thrusting and other bad oral habits, but also achieve great aesthetic benefits.

Keep reading for:

  • What is orofacial myofunctional therapy?
  • How does an orofacial myologist help you with orofacial myofunctional disorders?
  • What are the signs and symptoms of orofacial myofunctional disorders?
  • What are the most effective orofacial myofunctional therapy exercises?
  • Tongue thrust exercises for adults and more. 

Let’s get right into it!

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What Is Orofacial Myology?

Orofacial myology is a specialized discipline that examines the oral and facial (orofacial) muscles and functions, such as the face, neck, jaw, and mouth. It aims to understand and improve the coordination and movement of these muscles to better your oral and facial health. 

Orofacial myologists are professionals who specialize in this field and work closely with individuals experiencing orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs).

Here’s what an orofacial myologist can help you with:

  • Speech disorders, such as difficulty making certain sounds or stuttering
  • Swallowing disorders, such as difficulty swallowing or choking when eating
  • Orthodontic issues, such as problems with the alignment of the teeth
  • Tension in the orofacial muscles, which can lead to pain or discomfort
  • Habits like thumb sucking or tongue thrusting that can later cause problems with the teeth and jaw

What Is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)?

Oral myofunctional therapy, shortly known as OMT, involves a set of exercises and activities to correct improper tongue posture, incorrect swallowing patterns, tongue thrust, open mouth posture, and other abnormalities in the orofacial muscles. 

OMT involves a comprehensive evaluation by a trained orofacial myofunctional therapist to assess the individual's specific issues and develop a tailored treatment plan.

Exercises that come with oral myofunctional therapy are quite simple. Activating and ensuring the proper function of specific facial muscles, myofunctional therapy exercises trigger a positive chain reaction to improve coordination between the tongue and other facial muscles.

To make sure your OMT therapy remains successful, you need to exercise consistently until the incorrect muscle patterns are corrected. It requires dedication and commitment from both the patient and their family. You also need to be willing to invest time in the process.

Uses of Oral Myofunctional Therapy

Here are the uses and goals of orofacial myofunctional therapy:

  • Enhancing tongue elevation and increased strength of tongue movement.
  • Restoring proper resting posture for the tongue.
  • Helps with maintaining the correct tongue posture during swallowing and at rest, typically with the tip against the hard palate behind the upper front teeth.
  • Improving tongue motility and mobility.
  • Preventing potential relapse following orthodontic correction.
  • Helping with sleep apnea-related or sleep-disordered breathing patterns.
  • Developing nose breathing patterns.
  • Eliminating improper chewing and swallowing patterns.
  • Stabilizing the dentition by minimizing unnecessary orofacial muscle movement.

Benefits of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Now, let’s look over the potential benefits of orofacial myofunctional therapy:

  • Correcting and enhancing tongue and lip postures to promote the development of normal dental eruption and alignment patterns.
  • Assisting in tooth stabilization during or after orthodontic treatment or jaw surgery.
  • Identifying the need for and referring to speech treatment. Providing support for the remediation of speech errors using unique approaches in collaboration with Orofacial Myology-trained speech-language pathologists.
  • Helps with rectifying harmful habits, such as thumb-sucking or tongue thrusting.

Can contribute to a balanced facial structure (fixing facial asymmetry) and reduce the likelihood of orthodontic problems through proper tongue posture and swallowing habits.

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What Are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)?

Our ability to speak, breathe, and swallow relies on the harmonious coordination of muscles in our face, mouth, and throat. These muscles must be properly positioned and work together seamlessly.

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs), as defined by the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, are patterns that affect the muscles in our mouth and face. OMDs can disrupt the normal growth, development, or function of these structures. They often become noticeable due to the way they draw attention to themselves.

How Do Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Occur?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders occur when there is an abnormal positioning of the lips, jaw, or tongue during rest, swallowing, or speech. These improper muscle positions can lead to a range of problems. 

According to a study, people with OMDs may experience facial and neck pain, changes in facial bones, difficulties with breathing and swallowing that disrupt sleep, or ongoing issues following dental surgery or orthodontic treatment.

To state clearly, OMDs refer to certain muscle patterns in the oral and orofacial area that can impact your everyday functions. 

Causes of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)

OMDs can develop from a number of factors, including physical differences in the structure of the mouth and facial muscles, as well as patterns of behaviors developed over time.

Potential causes of OMDs include: 

Genetics – You may have a natural inclination that makes them more prone to certain orofacial muscle patterns and disorders due to your genetic makeup.

Orthodontic Issues – Malocclusions or misalignments can affect the positioning and coordination of the orofacial muscles.

Thumb or Finger Sucking in childhood – Prolonged thumb or finger sucking can impact the development of orofacial muscles

Overuse of Sippy Cups/Pacifiers in childhood  – Excessive reliance on sippy cups or pacifiers can interfere with proper muscle function and oral habits.

Structural Abnormalities – Certain structural differences in the mouth or facial muscles, such as a restricted lingual frenulum (tongue-tie) or enlarged tonsils and adenoids

Neurological Disorders – Some neurological conditions may affect the control and coordination of the orofacial muscles

Obstructed Nasal Passages – Nasal congestion caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids, allergies, or other nasal obstructions can influence tongue posture and result in improper muscle positioning.

Open Mouth Syndrome 

Open Mouth Syndrome is characterized by habitually keeping the mouth open, even at rest. This condition can lead to improper tongue posture, facial muscle imbalances, and breathing difficulties. You can get open mouth syndrome from nasal congestion, chronic mouth breathing, or oral habits that discourage proper lip seals.

Tongue Thrust

Tongue Thrust is a common OMD where the tongue pushes against or between the teeth during swallowing, speaking, or at rest. This can affect dental alignment, cause speech difficulties, and contribute to other OMDs. Tongue thrusting may be influenced by oral habits, muscle imbalances, or anatomical factors.

Symptoms and Signs of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)


  • Pain or discomfort around the face, jaw, or mouth.
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or impairment.
  • Mouth breathing.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Poor posture.

Signs you need to see an orofacial myologist for:

  • Crooked teeth.
  • The asymmetrical appearance of the lips or face.
  • Tongue thrust.
  • Incorrect chewing function.
  • Speech sound errors or distortion.
  • Dental abnormalities, such as an overjet and open bite.

How Does Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Work?

As soon as you opt for an OMT, you will work with a healthcare professional who has received specialized training in Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) and their treatment. 

In some cases, dental professionals may also have this training, allowing them to identify OMDs during routine oral exams and provide appropriate treatment.

Your myofunctional therapist will develop a personalized program to retrain your orofacial muscles and improve their function. The goals of your training may include:

  • Achieving a normal resting posture for your tongue and lips, 
  • Establishing proper nasal breathing patterns, and 
  • Eliminating harmful habits like thumb-sucking.

Throughout the therapy, your myofunctional therapist will help you become more aware of your mouth and facial muscles. They will likely provide you with exercises to practice at home, focusing on optimal swallowing, breathing, and resting patterns. Regular practice of these positions and movements will enhance your muscle strength and coordination.

What’s more, you’ll also notice positive cosmetic changes in your facial structure. 

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Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Exercises

Here are some orofacial myofunctional therapy exercises that your myologist might refer you to. 

Lip and Tongue Exercises

Lip seal exercises include these steps:

  1. Press your lips together firmly.
  2. Hold for a few seconds, then release. 
  3. Repeat several times.

Tongue sweeps include:

  1. Gently sweep your tongue across the roof of your mouth from front to back. 
  2. Repeat multiple times.

Breathing Exercises

Nasal breathing exercises include:

  1. Practice breathing in and out through your nose.
  2. Focus on deep and slow breaths.

Diaphragmatic breathing is done like this:

  1. Place one hand on your abdomen.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to rise.
  3. Exhale slowly through your mouth. 
  4. Repeat for several breaths.

Jaw and Facial Muscle Exercises

Jaw relaxation exercises include:

  1. Open your mouth wide and relax your jaw muscles. 
  2. Slowly close your mouth.
  3. Repeat.

Cheek resistance exercises: 

  1. Place your fingers on your cheeks.
  2. Try to push your cheeks inward against the resistance of your fingers. 
  3. Hold for a few seconds, then relax.

Mewing Tongue Posture Exercises 

Mewing, which is also a proper tongue posture exercise, helps with improving the orientation of your face. 

Here is a proper mewing tongue posture workout:

  1. Rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. 
  2. Keep your tongue in this position throughout the day to promote proper muscle alignment.
  3. Simultaneously breathe through your nose. 

If you want to get better with your proper mewing technique, we recommend to download our Mewing App. Besides providing facial mewing workout tutorials, this app helps you keep up with your facial appearance progress. 

All in all, it’s important you check in with a qualified orofacial myofunctional therapist to ensure that these myofunctional therapy exercises are performed correctly and are suitable for your specific needs. 

Regular practice of these exercises, under professional guidance, can help strengthen and improve the coordination of your orofacial muscles

Tongue Thrust Exercises for Adults

Here are a few orofacial myofunctional therapy tongue thrust exercises for adults.

Lip Competency Exercise:

  1. Put any hard object like a spoon or cardboard between your lips.
  2. Make your tongue push against that object. 
  3. Hold it tightly and steadily for 10 seconds.
  4. Complete 10 repetitions. 

Tongue Clicking Exercise:

  • Make a clicking while snapping your tongue down. 

Lip-stretching Exercise:

  1. Start by stretching the upper lip in a downward and outward motion as far as it comfortably goes.
  2. Repeat this stretching motion 10 times.
  3. Another variation of the exercise involves holding the stretched upper lip down by pressing the lower lip against it for 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat this variation 15-20 times a day.
  5. This exercise helps improve the tone of the upper lip.


  1. Simply use a whistle or put your lips in a whistling position.
  2. Hold the position for a while.
  3. This helps you improve your perioral muscles and cheek shape.

Remember, these are just a few OMT exercises for adults. Your myologist can suggest specific ones depending on your unique situation. 

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy – Before and After:

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) has shown promising results in fixing various orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) and improving orofacial muscles. 

The "before and after" aspect of OMT shows us the positive impact it can have on individuals' oral health and facial aesthetics. 

Here are some significant transformations of oromyofacial therapy. 

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Before and After for Optimal Orofacial Function

Before and after myofacial treatment 

Before and after 1 year of OMT 

Results of before and after of OMT shaping facial muscles 

While all these transformations show great credibility of orofacial myofunctional therapy, it’s still important to remember that the outcomes can vary depending on individual factors, commitment to the treatment plan, and other considerations.

It’s better you seek professional guidance from a qualified orofacial myofunctional therapist for a successful treatment journey. 

Why Do You Need to See an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist?

If you're dealing with issues like improper tongue posture, swallowing problems, or other concerns related to your mouth and face, seeing an orofacial myofunctional therapist can make a real difference. 

These therapists specialize in muscle and function problems, and they have the know-how to help you out. 

Here's why seeing an orofacial myologist is worth considering:

  • Orofacial myofunctional therapists are experts in understanding and treating issues with your face, mouth, and throat muscles. They've got the knowledge to figure out what's going on and how to fix it.

  • Everyone's situation is unique, and orofacial myofunctional therapists get that. They'll create a customized plan just for you, with exercises, tips, and advice tailored to your needs.

  • These therapists focus on correcting muscle imbalances to improve how everything works together. They'll help you get your tongue posture and swallowing patterns on track for better overall function.

  • By working with an orofacial myofunctional therapist, you'll learn habits that promote good oral health. They'll guide you in proper tongue posture, breathing through your nose, and getting rid of bad habits like mouth breathing or chewing incorrectly.

  • Orofacial myofunctional speech therapy experts often team up with other professionals like dentists and speech-language pathologists. This collaboration ensures you get comprehensive care and a well-rounded treatment plan.

And, most importantly, to help you get the right treatment approach for addressing orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). 

Let’s get into the details. 

FAQs – What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT)? 

How long do I see results with orofacial myofunctional therapy?

Consistency is important in orofacial myofunctional therapy, and with regular practice, you can expect to see noticeable results within approximately 6 months.

How Does Myofunctional Therapy Help the Airway?

Myofunctional therapy, led by a speech-language pathologist, aims to improve your speaking, swallowing, and breathing patterns. With the guidance of a professional, you can work towards improving these crucial functions and airways. 

Is Mewing Tongue Posture an Integral Part of OMT? 

Yes, mewing tongue posture is often considered an integral part of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT). It involves proper tongue placement against the roof of the mouth, which can help improve muscle function and oral posture.

How Beneficial Is Myofunctional Therapy for Adults? 

Myofunctional therapy is recommended both for children and adults. It helps the patients of OMDs improve oral function and promote orofacial health. 

By targeting specific concerns such as swallowing, tongue posture, and breathing patterns, adults can experience positive changes in speech, swallowing efficiency, sleep quality, and facial aesthetics.

The information provided in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice or a substitute for professional guidance. Mewing and other techniques mentioned on this website may not be suitable for everyone, and individual results may vary. We strongly recommend that you consult with a qualified healthcare professional, such as an orthodontist, dentist, or myofunctional therapist, before starting any new oral or facial exercises, particularly if you have existing dental, orthodontic, or health concerns.
Written by
Victoria Punda
July 25, 2023