Objectives: Insufficient attention is given in the literature to the early treatment of anterior open bite (AOB) subjects receiving orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT), which aims to harmonize the orofacial functions. This prospective pilot study investigates the effects of OMT on tongue behaviour in children with AOB and a visceral swallowing pattern.
Materials and methods: The study comprised of 22 children (11 boys, 11 girls; age range: 7.1-10.6 years). They were randomly assigned into OMT and non-OMT subjects. The randomization was stratified on the presence of a transversal crossbite. At baseline (T0), at the end of treatment (T1) and at 6 months after T1 (T2) maximum tongue elevation strength was measured with the IOPI system (IOPI MEDICAL LLC, Redmond, Washington, USA). Functional characteristics such as tongue posture at rest, swallowing pattern and articulation and the presence of an AOB were observed.
Results: OMT did significantly change tongue elevation strength, tongue posture at rest, and tongue position during swallowing of solid food. At T2 more OMT subjects had contact between the lower central incisors and their antagonists or palate (P = 0.036). More OMT subjects performed a physiological pattern of water swallowing than non-OMT children at T1 and T2, although the differences were not significant. Articulation of /s,l,n,d,t/ was not improved by OMT. No interaction between OMT and expansion was found for any of the parameters.
Conclusion: OMT can positively influence tongue behaviour. However, further research is recommended to clarify the success of OMT as an adjunct to orthodontic treatment and to identify possible factors influencing the outcome.
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