Myofunctional Therapy

What is Myofunctional therapy?

Many of us are not aware that our tongue positioning can affect mouth functions including chewing, swallowing and the way an individual looks and speaks. You will be happy to know that you can correct these with myofunctional therapy. It includes training to improve your oral health and function, as well as your overall health. There are many advantages of orofacial myofunctional therapy for both children and adults

Myofunctional therapy, is a mixture of multiple therapy exercises to improve the orofacial myofunctional disorders, which affects our tongue positioning and incorrect functioning of the tongue and facial muscles. The combination of procedures can help to improve speaking, swallowing, chewing and breathing. The purpose of training is to focus on the tongue, mouth, neck and tissues to get the appropriate tongue position and oral rest posture. Orofacial myofunctional disorders are not limited to any age group and they can have an adverse effect on any individual.

What are Orofacial myofunctional disorders?

The disorder occurs when the tongue or lip interferes with orofacial structures, functions and development. A common cause of OMDs are tongue and lip ties. This happens with the tissue or frenum under the tongue and upper lip are too short and limits the movement of the tongue and lips. Lip ties can be the cause of a thin and or short upper lip and can cause the lips to be parted at rest creating an open mouth posture. This can contributes to mouth breathing. Additionally, OMDs affects the chewing, swallowing and talking function. If an infant is diagnosed with a tongue tie, it can create problems with breast-feeding as the infant will have trouble with latching. The disorders can also affect the way our face looks, as well as our posture

Obstruction in the upper airway when nasal breathing is disturbed is a common symptom. The body tries too correct itself by breathing through the mouth, which changes the natural growth and position of the jaw, lips, tongue and facial structure.

Upper airway obstruction can put pressure on teeth, by creating a tongue thrust from improper swallowing and tongue position. This forces teeth to move in an inappropriate direction.

Tongue thrust is the act of pushing the tongue against or between the teeth when swallowing.

The constant pressure of the tongue against or between the teeth will not allow the teeth to bite together. This is known as an open bite.

An improper alignment or malocclusion between the upper and lower teeth can lead to difficulties in biting and chewing food.

Below are common symptoms of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

  • Wrong positioning of teeth, including crowding and narrow arches
  • Thrusting of tongue, creating improper swallowing habits
  • Mouth breathing, open mouth posture
  • Elongated face, downward tilted eyes and dark circles under eyes
  • Clenching and Grinding of teeth
  • Pain in face, jaw, neck and shoulder area

  • Frequent headaches

  • Breathing issues

  • Restless sleep, waking often in the night

  • Snoring, gasping, choking in sleep

  • Frequent nightmares

  • Increased daytime sleepiness

  • Stomach issues including acid reflux

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you or your child might have orofacial myofunctional disorders.Treating these disorders through myofunctional therapy can restore proper oral function and help improve overall wellness

The face can have a dull sluggish appearance when the muscles are not in proper balance.

An incorrect swallow will purse and tighten the muscles of the cheeks, chin, and lips, causing a facial grimace

Mouth breathing or constantly open lips is a cause and/or signal of tongue thrust and low tongue rest posture.

How Do Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Impact Oral Health?

Improper tongue and facial posture can affect tongue function and flow of saliva. Saliva plays a major role in fighting against plaque and bacteria. Acid reflux and mouth breathing are also common with OMDs. Therefore, individuals diagnosed with OMD have a greater risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease.

Effectiveness of orofacial myofunctional therapy

Myofunctional therapy is a process performed by a myofunctional therapist who has received training in OMDs and corrective treatments for these disorders. The training goals depend on your specific needs and include correction of the tongue posture, proper swallowing habits, resting or closed lip position and establishment of breathing patterns. The elimination of unnecessary habits such as thumb sucking, and nail biting are key for success.

Your OMD therapist will recommend a proper treatment plan to follow which will require you to perform exercises that include the tongue, lips and mouth, as well as breathing, swallowing and resting patterns. Once you start practicing, your muscle coordination will increase, helping to eliminate improper oral habits and functions.

Enlarged tonsils (shown in white) can block the airway, causing an improper positioning of the tongue.

Thumb or finger sucking habits force the tongue into a low position that pushes it against the teeth.

Exercises are key to correcting OMDs and obstructive sleep apnea treatment. Both children and adults can perform these exercises to achieve the results needed to eliminate OMD disorders.

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