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 results in incorrect functioning of facial muscles. The combination of these procedures can help to improve speaking, swallowing, chewing, and breathing. The main 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; they can exert adverse effects on any individual.
What Are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?
Myofunctional disorders usually occur when the tongue or lip interferes with orofacial structures, functions, and development. A common cause of OMDs is tongue and lip ties. This generally happens when the tissue or frenum under the tongue and the upper lip is 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 contributes to more mouth breathing.
Additionally, OMDs affect the chewing, swallowing and talking functions. If an infant is diagnosed with a tongue tie, it can create problems with breastfeeding, as the infant will have trouble with latching. Orofacial disorders can also affect the way our face looks, as well as our posture.
The most common symptom of OMDs is an obstruction in the upper airway, which disturbs nasal breathing. The body tries to 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 also put pressure on teeth by creating a tongue thrust from irregular swallowing and tongue position, forcing the teeth toward an improper position.
Some Common Symptoms Of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders Are:
- Wrong positioning of teeth, including crowding and narrow arches.
- Thrusting of the 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 the face, jaw, neck, and shoulder area.
- Frequent headaches.
- Breathing issues.
- Restless sleep, often waking 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. These disorders treated through myofunctional therapy can restore proper oral function and help improve oral wellness.
Effects of Myofunctional Disorders Oral Health
Improper tongue and facial posture can affect tongue function and the 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.
Orofacial myofunctional disorders are generally caused due to blocked nasal passages because of allergies or tonsil size. When the nasal passages are blocked, people usually breathe through their mouths instead, which causes the tongue to be misplaced and makes it difficult to keep the lips together at rest.
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, mainly 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. Eliminating unnecessary habits such as thumb-sucking and nail-biting proves to be very effective in the treatment of OMDs.
Your OMD therapist will recommend a proper treatment plan for you, 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 those exercises, your muscle coordination will increase, helping to eliminate improper oral habits and functions.
Exercises are key to correcting OMDs and can significantly treat obstructive sleep apnea. Both children and adults can perform these exercises to achieve the results needed to eliminate OMD disorders.
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.
Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy
Myofunctional therapy is a minimally invasive treatment and involves several therapeutic exercises which can be performed in a matter of minutes. People can execute these exercises while doing their daily routine tasks. These exercises help people of any age in correcting their orofacial disorders and show results within a few months, but one has to be consistent while performing them. Myofunctional therapy has multiple benefits, including:
1. Quicker Results
Myofunctional therapy eliminates the need to wear traditional braces for prolonged periods in order to correct oral problems. Moreover, this therapy also makes it easier for your mouth to support removable orthodontic methods like clear aligners. Clear aligners or Invisalign are not only more aesthetically pleasing, but they prove to be quicker than traditional braces, especially in combination with myofunctional therapy.
2. Sleep Apnea Relief
Sleep apnea is a common problem that affects the sleeping pattern of millions of people. If left untreated for extended periods, it can increase the risks of various health issues like heart stroke, high blood pressure, etc. Myofunctional therapy helps increase the strength of your mouth, tongue, and neck, which can prevent the collapse of throat muscles, keeping the airway clear during sleep.
Myofunctional therapy helps strengthen muscles of the throat, soft palate, and tongue, which can reduce the symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing and improve mild to moderate orofacial disorders. It can also prevent the relapse of sleep apnea after surgical treatment.
3. Effective for Everyone
Unlike braces that prove to be more effective for children or teenagers, myofunctional therapy can correct the oral disorders of nearly everyone. This treatment is incredibly advantageous for adults as well. Our bodies are always changing, and the jawbone is one of the most dynamic bones in our body. Myofunctional therapy allows everything to work properly and prevents the occurrence of functional problems in the jaw.