Myofunctional issues in children and adults

By Ann-Marie C. DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

When continuing education planners work on an all-day or multiday program, they choose a theme for the program. Whether the CE is a single program or multiple programs with multiple speakers, the planner must develop a cohesive, integrated plan. Nancy Barnes, RDH, recently asked me to be part of an all-day program she was planning for the City of New York and the Mid-Hudson Dental Hygienists' Association. Her thoughts were to incorporate my childhood developmental delay program with several other speakers with expertise in speech and language disorders. She developed an interesting and enlightening program that I enjoyed being part of.

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As dental professionals, we're in a unique position to assist our patients in the maintenance and improvement of their medical and oral health. Early recognition of feeding, speech/language, and motor delays and the appropriate referrals to the proper sources can greatly improve the quality of life for the patient and family. We need to know how to inform parents about the types of issues to be aware of and the appropriate referral sources. This program mixed an overview of speech/language and motor delays with information on preventive oral myofunctional therapy at an early age, infant/toddler feeding therapies, oral motor function, oral habit analysis and its relationship to malocclusion, and orthodontic treatments. The program featured two dental hygienists, two dentists, and a speech and language pathologist in an all-day interactive curriculum.

I had the privilege of being the leadoff speaker, effectively setting the tone for the other presenters by introducing concepts that others elaborated on in their presentations. Information from my section included:

  • Discussion of developmental delays and disorders
  • Identification of the parts of communication and types of delays seen in children
  • Recognition of the signs associated with motor delays
  • Understanding how delays in communication can affect a child's development

From my presentation, the program delved into more in-depth understanding of a variety of aspects of communication and oral motor functioning. Presenter Dana Surena-Mattson, SLP, TSHH, LVSVT-C, CSCFT-C, HANEN-C, discussed "Toddlers and OMT: Why Not?" Dana is a speech and language pathologist in Connecticut. She explored the advantages of instituting preventive oral myofunctional therapy (OMT) at an early age. Her discussions centered on the role that infant and toddler feeding skills have on the proper development of oral motor function and masticatory muscular development. She stressed the importance of proper evaluation and early therapy, even in infants, to alleviate future functional and structural issues.

Following Dana, Paula Fabbie, RDH, certified orofacial myologist, focused on "What's the Tongue Got to Do with It?" Paula is an orofacial myologist in New York. Through case studies, Paula delved into tongue habits, ankyloglossia, and incorrect tongue postures that can lead to malocclusions. She discussed the role of myofunctional therapy and orthodontics, and how dental professionals can serve as valuable resources for patients and parents.

Rounding out the program were Howard Hindin, DDS, and Jill Meyer Hindin, DDS, who examined airway-centric dentistry. Dr. Hindin and Dr. Meyer Hindin are in-laws. (Dr. Meyer Hindin is married to Dr. Hindin's son, and they all practice together in New York.) Their presentations focused on understanding the relationship of the airway, proper breathing, and facial growth guidance. Airway-centric dentistry involves a multidisciplinary approach to evaluation and treatment that emphasizes proper oral posturing and silent nasal breathing rather than poor posture and mouth breathing. Research has shown that children as young as six months exhibit disturbed breathing or sleep that can lead to poor structural development and other health-related issues.

The overall theme of the day's presentations highlighted the role of the dental professional in recognizing issues that can compromise patients' health and well-being. One of our roles as health professionals is to educate patients about oral and systemic health, and to make the appropriate referrals to other health professionals. Understanding that many of the issues we encounter can be prevented if diagnosed early, initiating early preventive therapies with our youngest patients can be beneficial for all.

With the advent of the CDT code D0145 -- oral evaluation for a patient under three years of age and counseling with primary caregiver -- dental professionals have the ability to reach these young patients while enhancing the practice's visibility. Are you educating and growing your practice with the youngest patients?

For information about the program, contact the author at amrdh@aol.com, or Nancy Barnes at pbarfam@aol.com.

Thought for the Month:
"Patience and fortitude conquer all things."  -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

This month's INeedCE course is "HIPAA Complexities and Compliance Issues."
RDH readers will receive a 50% discount good through 6/15/2014 when code ANMAY14 is used. 50% off regular price of $49 is $24.50.

HIPAA Complexities and Compliance Issues
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is well known to all health-care providers and everyone who has visited any health-care facility. The need to protect the personal and medical information of patients is the primary reason for the enactment of HIPAA in 1996. Many provisions have been added since the original law was enacted.

HIPAA is very complex, making compliance difficult. Additionally, patient comanagement and communication among a variety of facilities, including labs, specialists, diagnostic and imaging centers, among many others, has further complicated compliance across the spectrum of patient care. Companies that facilitate secure communication and assistance with HIPAA compliance provide protection for covered entities and the patient as well.

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie is collaborating with several authors on various books for dental hygiene and can be reached at amrdh@aol.com.

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