Good oral health sometimes requires more attention than just brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups. In some cases, more extensive and expensive treatments are necessary, like surgery, implants, or myofunctional therapy. The name may be long and confusing if you don’t understand what it means. Last week we discussed what myofunctional therapy is, what the word means and how it can impact your daily life.
Today we will talk about what you should know. Our current healthcare system treats symptoms rather than looking for the root cause.
Myofunctional therapy is an oral health specialty focusing on improving the muscles of the tongue, lips, and face for better function and form. It is a treatment often recommended for conditions like tongue-tie, sleep apnea, and even jaw pain. However, before diving into this therapy, it’s important to have an understanding of what you’re getting into.
For me symptoms are clues that there’s a bigger underlying issue with your airway. That’s what we really focus on because your airway and your ability to be able to breathe are critical to truly being healthy. Myofunctional therapy is all about changing habits and strengthening muscles to improve the way that we breathe, the way that we eat and swallow.
Myofunctional therapy honestly can have life changing results. Some of the issues we treat may seem normal. However, Common does not mean it’s normal. Keep in mind every patient is different, some patients may experience jaw pain, some may suffer from mouth breathing, some may wet the bed to have night terrors, others may have been told they are tongue tied or have a tongue thrust.
Myofunctional therapy is one type of treatment that looks at the way the tongue and the oral muscles move and function. Some of the issues may seem normal, but just because everybody else snores, or mouth breathes or even suffers from headaches, migraines, asthma allergies, ADHD, all of those things have become so common we say they are the norm. We have learned to accept them and live with them.
Just because so many people chronically deal with many of these symptoms, doesn’t make it normal. Dysfunction is never normal.
Our body is so good at compensating when something is off we do not even give it a second thought. What if we could teach your body, your mouth and your tongue to work for you versus working against you?
When your tongue does not fit or rest on the roof of your mouth, function is affected whether you realize it or not.
With myofunctional therapy that’s what we do and we work together to create transformational sustainable habits. You may be asking yourself why haven’t I heard of myofunctional therapy? There’s no easy answer. Even though myofunctional therapy has become more and more recognized over the past few decades, it’s still not widely known, understood or accepted.
This is because most dentists, pediatricians and orthodontists, dental hygienists, speech pathologist, and ENT’s were simply never trained in myofunctional therapy as part of their medical or dental education so they may not fully understand it.
Knowing that not all providers have the same information will help you make informed decisions before starting therapy or choosing a provider.
This is definitely changing. As the whole body approach to health care becomes more and more popular.
Suppose you have developed orofacial myofunctional disorders because the natural development of the muscles and bones in your face and mouth were hindered in some way. Either from chronic habits like thumbsucking or mouth breathing or feeding. You may experience problems with eating, chewing, swallowing, and breathing. Both children and adults are affected by this disorder, If you notice any symptoms you may want to consider an evaluation form a myofunctional therapist. We talked about symptoms last week. If you would like to know more see what is myofunctional therapy.
Why Should You Consider Oral Myofunctional Treatment?
If you have any orofacial myofunctional disorders, you undoubtedly have weakened and underdeveloped facial, mouth, tongue, and throat muscles. Myofunctional therapy focuses on strengthening and retraining the muscles using repeated and straightforward exercises. During the treatment, the muscles of your face, mouth, tongue, and throat become stable to cause a decrease in the effects of disordered breathing and other symptoms of myofunctional disorders.
Here are 12 things you should know before beginning myofunctional therapy:
Before starting this treatment from any therapist, it helps to know the 12 crucial things of this therapy to get the best benefits and outcome from the treatment. There are:
- Consultation is Key
The first step before beginning any form of therapy is to consult with a healthcare provider. This is particularly important for myofunctional therapy, as it allows for an initial assessment of your oral and facial muscles, posture, and habits. A trained therapist will also be able to identify any particular issues you may have and tailor a treatment plan accordingly.
- 2. Knowing What are Your Treatment Goals
There are so many symptoms myofunctional therapy can address. Do you know why you are seeking treatment or have you been told by your dentist or doctor to call and you are not sure what problem it will be solving for you exactly? Your therapist will ask what brought you to them? Why are you seeking treatment? If you are not sure an evaluation with a therapist can answer the why. It is ok to not know. I have seen several patients that did not feel they had any symptoms. We do not need to waste your time or money if you will not benefit from treatment. No one wants to start therapy and feel like it was a waste of time or worse money. If you have OMD’s and you do nothing you will spend more time and money treating symptoms. This is what I did.
- Not Just For Kids
Everyone Benefits from Myofunctional Treatment
While myofunctional therapy is commonly recommended for children facing developmental challenges with their oral and facial muscles, it’s also effective for adults. In adults, this therapy can help manage conditions like sleep apnea, TMJ disorders, and even improve oral posture.
Myofunctional treatment undoubtedly works better on children and adolescents. However, adults will benefit from this therapy also. The body is constantly changing and remodeling itself. Myofunctional therapy understands the reality that your tongue is the most dynamic muscle and your jawbones are the most dynamic bones in the entire body. Therefore, these bones and muscles are more receptive to the forces released when performing myofunctional therapy exercises.
4. It’s a Commitment
Myofunctional therapy requires consistent effort and time commitment, often over a period of several months. Typically, it involves regular sessions with a therapist and daily exercises to be done at home. Make sure you’re prepared for the commitment it will take to see the therapy through to its end for best results and you are not disappointed. The therapist will guide you but you will have to do the work or make sure your child is doing the exercises on a daily basis.
- The Treatment Is Convenient
Myofunctional therapy is similar to having a personal trainer for all your muscles below the eyes and above the shoulders. The trainer works to strengthen and coordinate the facial and tongue muscles for correct oral resting posture. You learn various exercises and activities regularly until new neuromuscular patterns occur to establish different habits. The therapy requires more time than just working with a therapist. It requires a commitment from you to adhere to the plan and practice the exercises given daily. Many therapists have telehealth options so you can see them from the convenience of your home on your phone or computer making it easier to get the care you need.
6. Exercise Consistency
The exercises prescribed in myofunctional therapy are designed to be straightforward, but they require consistent practice. Just like physical exercises for other muscle groups, the more you practice, the better the results.
7. It’s Not a Quick Fix
Myofunctional therapy is often a slow and steady process. While some improvements might be noticed quickly, it usually takes a longer period of time to see substantial changes. It’s important to remain patient and committed throughout the therapy.
- Myofunctional Therapy Can Shorten Orthodontic Treatment
Many adults looking for straight teeth fear getting braces because of the perceived social stigma of having them. Myofunctional therapy exercises help people reduce the time you spend wearing braces or avoid them altogether if started early. In addition, the treatment strengthens the muscles of your tongue, cheeks and jaw, making it easier for you to select different treatment options to achieve your goal of having straighter teeth and a beautiful smile. If you have a tongue thrust habit myofunctional therapy can save you from having to wear braces again. If you do not stop the tongue thrusting habit, your teeth will shift and relapse. Meaning you may need to wear braces again.
- Myofunctional Treatment Helps You Sleep Better
Mouth breathing at night kicks you out of your sleep cycle and keeps your body in fight or flight when you sleep. Causing you to feel tired even after 7-8 hours of sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 22 million Americans. People with untreated sleep apnea develop an elevated risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, anxiety and depression. Myofunctional exercises can help people strengthen their mouth, tongue, jaw and neck muscles to prevent soft tissue collapse occurring when sleeping. The strengthening of the muscles makes it easier to keep the airway open when sleeping. Learning how you breathe and correcting habits can change your life in so many ways.
- 10. Your Appearance Improves by Myofunctional Treatment
If you frequently breathe through your mouth, the habit can alter your appearance. Open mouth breathing narrows your dental arches while lengthening the facial structure. Myofunctional treatment addresses the root cause of mouth breathing, encouraging optimal oral test posture with your teeth and lips closed and the tongue resting against the roof of your mouth. This optimal posture encourages nasal breathing, which over time reshapes your face. However, the changes are most significant in younger patients than older adults. Once we are older the structure may need surgery to get the best outcome.
11. Interdisciplinary Approach
Myofunctional therapy can often work best when combined with other medical interventions. For example, someone suffering from sleep apnea might require a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine in addition to myofunctional therapy. Similarly, orthodontic treatments like braces may be recommended for issues related to bite or alignment.
12. Insurance Coverage Varies
Before you start, inquire about the cost of the therapy and whether it’s covered by your insurance. Coverage can vary widely depending on your provider and the specific conditions being treated. Make sure you’re financially prepared for the possibility of out-of-pocket expenses.
The four goals of myofunctional therapy
Are…. lips together , breathe through your nose, tongue on the roof of your mouth and correct swallow pattern.
Knowing what your goals are, why you are seeking treatment and coming up with a plan of how you can benefit from therapy will increase a positive outcome.
Understanding how the therapy benefits you, also helps if you realize this treatment is a natural remedy for various eating, breathing, and sleeping problems. However, the treatment is hardly the only one used when treating these disorders.
The goals desired from the treatment are achieved by a team of medical and dental health professionals who often work together to accomplish your objective. In addition, your myofunctional therapist has various methodologies to increase the efficiency or enable your goals to be achieved with their program. Therefore you may need more than just myofunctional treatment and must plan accordingly. Sometimes it takes a few professionals to get the desired outcome.
Myofunctional treatment is not invasive or painful, it is a method of strengthening your facial muscles using exercises repeatedly as directed by your therapist.
Habits can be symptoms, but it’s also worth keeping in mind that every patient is different and some may experience jaw pain, some suffer with mouth breathing, while others may have been told or they have a tongue tie or thrust. Myofunctional therapy is a type of treatment that looks at the way the tongue and the oral muscles move and function.
Understanding your goals and expectations and discussing them with the provider you choose will help you make a decision that is right for you and your family.
If you have any questions feel free to jump on a ten minute call with me. I will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the care you need.
Starting myofunctional therapy is a big step towards improved oral health and function. Understanding these twelve factors will better prepare you for what’s involved, helping you make an informed decision.
Remember, consult with a healthcare provider for personalized medical advice tailored to your specific needs.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
I hope you have a better understanding about myofunctional therapy and are excited to learn even more. I will continue to educate on the options available to prevent disease rather than treat it.
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As always, A healthy Mouth Healthy Body and a Happy Healthy life.