A quick tutorial for dental professionals

 Q: What is the difference between “tongue thrust” and orofacial myology?

A: Tongue thrust refers to one of many symptoms of an orofacial myology disorder.  We used to think that the thrusting of the tongue during the actual swallow was responsible for the open bite or malocclusion we often   see in conjunction with orofacial myology disorders.  We now know that    the resting postures of the tongue, lips, and mandible are the critical     criteria to address. Since “tongue thrust” means different things to different professionals (for example., to a speech pathologist, it refers to a lisp), it is best to describe the condition as an orofacial myology disorder rather than one common symptom such as the thrust we see during a brief swallow.

Q: Should I send my “tongue thrust” patients to a speech pathologist?

A: Speech pathologists do not automatically receive training about orofacial myology in their undergraduate or graduate education.  In fact, it is quite rare to find any university that teaches any aspect of this specialty area. Thus you will not necessarily solve your problems by sending them to any speech pathologist arbitrarily.  Those who are Certified Orofacial     Myologists (COM) or who are in the certification track process (have    attended IAOM approved 28 hour course) are the suggested speech pathologists to retain.  The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) has determined criteria for members wishing to treat orofacial myology clients.

Q: I have heard that an RDH can offer “tongue thrust” treatment.  Is that true?

A: Yes, if they are IAOM Certified Orofacial Myologists (COM) or certification track candidates.

Q: Are any other  professionals eligible to become IAOM certified orofacial myologists?

A: Dentists are eligible to become IAOM members and to seek certification, in addition to Speech Pathologists and Dental Hygienists.

Q: What is involved in the IAOM (International Association of Orofacial Myology) certification process?

A: Requirements include having attended a 28 hour approved course,  completed and passed a proficiency examination, and having passed an onsite evaluation from a member of the Board of Examiners of the IAOM. At that time the candidate is granted the C.O.M., certification of orofacial myology.

Q: How can my practice benefit from referring patients for orofacial myology?

A:  To learn of the benefits of orofacial myology and the various conditions for which you would refer patients for treatment, see the article by Dr. Robert M. Mason, DMD, PhD, at:

When you go to, you will also find multiple questions and answers about the many aspects of orofacial myology disorders.  You can use this information to help you select the most competent therapist.



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