Last week we talked about Myo Munchee, which is an appliance that you can purchase yourself online to help build stronger muscles.
Myofunctional difficulties start in early childhood. If babies cannot feed properly, they are often incapable of swallowing correctly and may have chronic ear infections. The poor swallow leads to more problems as the child grows.
Parents typically describe children like these as picky or messy eaters, gag easily, have an open mouth rest posture and mouth breathing. These are a few myofunctional issues. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is a minimally invasive, holistic approach to treating children’s tongue dysfunction with therapy for the muscles of the face, jaw, and tongue.
“Form follows function” is a common phrase we hear when discussing myofunctional therapy. Put more simply: if you exercise the muscles, you will be able to see the physical effects of your actions on your face.
So how is this related to teeth? In a growing child, what they do with their mouth and tongue will determine how their teeth, face, jaws, and, most importantly, airways grow. Myo means muscle, so the term myofunctional describes the muscle function of the oral structures. Myofunctional therapy is looking at poor muscle function and correcting it. The younger it is corrected, the fewer problems later in life.
Myofunctional therapy seeks to prevent or repair the issues of diminished airway, low tongue posture, poor facial growth patterns, and improperly aligned teeth by addressing the underlying etiological issues. In other words, myofunctional therapy is aimed at the cause rather than symptom management.
It is best defined as physical therapy of the oral musculature.
There are four primary goals of myofunctional therapy:
- Lips together
- Nasal breathing
- Correct tongue placement at rest
- Correct swallow
The first thing to focus on is nasal breathing. Many children have their lips apart when breathing and breathe through their mouths. Mouth breathing exposes the tonsils and adenoids to dirty air, allergens, and pollutants and initiates a stress response in the nervous system. Putting them in fight or flight. Open mouth breathing also disrupts the feedback to the upper jaw, leading to the downward, backward growth pattern seen in long-faced children with dark circles under the eyes.
Unlike nasal breathing, which cleans, warms, and humidifies the air and causes a relaxation response and 18% more oxygen to the brain. If children can’t breathe through their nose, we may send them to an ENT doctor to get their airway open before we can start with myofunctional therapy.
We teach children where their tongue needs to be at rest. It is important that it rests at the top of the mouth, at the point where it resides when most people say “N.” When the tongue rests away from the N¬spot, perhaps on the floor of the mouth or between the teeth, it can lead to different bite issues and problematic facial development patterns. Correct tongue placement is the core of myofunctional therapy.
Once that is accomplished, next is teaching children how to swallow correctly, which begins with the tongue on the N¬spot. As swallowing begins in utero, this normally requires at least a year of neuromuscular repatterning while the brain re-trains itself to swallow differently.
Today we are going to talk about another device that is an innovative dental appliance that combines both function and structure called myofunctional orthodontics.
Dr. Marianna Evans, an orthodontist / Periodontist, talked about this at a lecture I recently attended. She discussed how we should be looking at our kids as soon as they are born and start evaluating the form, structure, and function of their mouths.
Myobrace, like a munchee, starts with an infant trainer that allows a child to exercise their natural chew impulse. More importantly, it allows the child to breathe through their nose while correcting the tongue’s position and improving swallowing, which guides correct jaw growth and breathing patterns. Between the ages of 2-5, 70% of the growth of a child’s face and jaw takes place. Also, during this stage, children naturally want to chew objects, or at least my daughter did. I was constantly telling her to stop chewing on things. Boy, do I wish I had one of these devices back then.
This would have been a great help to stop her thumb and finger-sucking habits while assisting in jaw and teeth development, correct tongue posture, and correct nasal breathing.
The Myobrace®System is a preventive pre-orthodontic treatment that addresses the underlying causes of crooked teeth; if we intervene early, there may not be the need for braces or teeth extraction, unlocking natural growth and development.
Treatment with myobrace is best suited to children aged 2 to 15 and involves using a series of removable intraoral appliances that are worn for 3 – 10 minutes when they are little or as they grow and graduate to different appliances for 1-2 hours each day plus overnight while sleeping.
The soft training appliances can be given to you by your orofacial myofunctional therapist, physical therapist, SLP, or OT. The orthodontic, airway dysfunction, craniofacial development, and dental alignment appliances need to be fitted by a dentist or orthodontist.
This system uses your child’s natural growth and development to expand the roof of the mouth and airway space and make room for the tongue and teeth, all while helping to correct myofunctional issues.
What Myobrace® treatment does:
- Corrects poor oral habits
- Develops & aligns the jaws
- Straightens the teeth
- Optimizes facial development
- Improves overall health
- Promotes healthy eating habits
How does it do this? By helping the child:
- Breathe through the nose
- Correct tongue resting position
- Swallow correctly
- Keep the lips together
These are the same goals as Myofunctional Therapy!
How Does Myobrace Fit In?
The MyoBrace® system utilizes a series of both removable oral appliances, called “TRAINERS” and “MYOFUNCTIONAL TRAINING EXERCISES” to help your child grow healthy, breathe easily and sleep better by dealing with the underlying issues that can cause “crooked teeth” and “narrow palates” in the first place – as a result, your child ends up with not only a beautiful smile but a healthier airway.
THE GOALS OF MYOBRACE® TREATMENT ARE:
- Proper Resting Tongue Position on The Roof of The Mouth – “Tongue on the Spot”
- Lips Together at Rest
- Breathe Through the Nose
- No Movement of the Lips or Face Muscles When Swallowing
Many factors contribute to a beautiful smile. We strive for a wide smile with the proper lip line (teeth with a hint of gum) and a natural smile arch (upper front teeth mimic the arch of the lower lip). By guiding the teeth into a balanced, functional occlusion, making sure there is enough room in the upper palate to “house” the tongue to act as a scaffold, and establishing proper nasal breathing and swallowing habits, we help assure that your child’s beautiful smile can last a lifetime. We cannot, however, always overcome the inevitable forces of aging or habits we do not work to change.
This system works in stages and is designed for specific age groups and developmental stages. The fundamental keys to this treatment are obtaining correct tongue resting posture, nasal breathing, and retraining oral facial muscles to function properly. Along with habit correction, Myobrace appliances assist the teeth in aligning into their natural position, so there may be no need for conventional braces or extractions of teeth to allow room. There are limitations to conventional braces; when started later in life, they can cause damage to the enamel, roots, and bone. Creating periodontal issues when we are older due to bone loss from moving the teeth after growth has occurred.
Myofunctional training and use of a MyoBrace® trainer appliance both before and after “traditional” orthodontics is completed, and the braces come-off is recommended and is the best way to guard against relapse after treatment. For some, this commitment isn’t something that appeals to them at the time of bracket removal, they just want their braces off, and we certainly understand that. This is why long-term retention is often needed to ensure that your child’s smile will be a gift that keeps on giving. Following active orthodontic treatment, myobrace offers either Myofunctional Training with a MyoBrace® trainer or customized “clear” retainers for nighttime wear.
This is an amazing advance in early treatment that can save time, money, and lives. We start life with breath and end life with breath. For me, it means that when we talk about total health, we start with the one thing we can not live without for more than 6 minutes. Breathing!
Disclaimer: Treatment goals are heavily dependent on a patient’s compliance, willingness, and ability to change habits. Starting early increases the chance for optimal results.
Not all dentists, orthodontics, and other healthcare providers know about these early interventions. Knowing what questions to ask will help facilitate the best treatment options for your family.
Give your child the best start to life by paying attention to how they breathe. It all starts in the mouth.
A healthy mouth is a healthy body and a happy, healthy life!
For a free consultation with me, go to www.shereewertz.com/social
Find a provider at the link below.