What are the causes of orofacial myology disorders? Can they be related to hereditary components? Can the habit pattern in some be shown to be a “learned” behavior?
Dr. Robert Mason responded:
OMDs are, most often, habit patterns or adaptations that develop because of specific and abnormal morphological characteristics of the head and neck area, some of which may be inherited. Example: tongue thrusting is a clinical clue observed anteriorly that reminds clinicians to evaluate posterior oral structures and the airway to identify the reasons for tongue thrusting. Inherited physical findings may include enlarged tonsils and/or and adenoids, allergies, other interferences along the airway and nasal cavity, or the size and shape of the pharynx, each of which may be linked to the inherited characteristics of size, shape, or even a specific growth experience within a family. The shape and size of the jaws are often duplicated within family members and thus are considered to be inherited characteristics. An exception is thumb and other sucking habits since they represent universal infant behaviors that would not be considered to occur on the basis of any specific inherited physical characteristics. It is well known that many individuals within a family have a similar-sounding voice quality. The quality of the speaking voice is related to the shape and size of the pharyngeal structures and these structural features can be hereditary. Entertainers who can imitate the voices of celebrities are able to do so by changing the shape of their pharyngeal structures to be able to assume the voice quality of the celebrity. An OMD, like this example of voice quality, is the result of some physical feature that may have a hereditary component to it, rather than being the cause of the hereditary component. C, your question provides an opportunity for us to remind ourselves that OMDs are clues to look for causes that would need to be resolved before success can be achieved in eliminating OMDs. Thus, OMDs are best viewed as behavioral adaptations to unusual features of the physical environment of the oral cavity and pharynx. Orofacial myologists are challenged to identify whatever physical findings or habit patterns have led to an OMD. Some physical findings may be linked to morphological features that have been inherited, so attention to the features of other family members should also be a part of the clinical evaluation process. Post: Orofacial Myology disorders and hereditary physical components