Myofunctional therapy is for children and adults who have trouble with chewing, swallowing, speaking, breathing and sleeping because the muscles in their mouth and face do not function properly. The treatment addresses and corrects these muscle problems.
The human face has more than 2 dozen muscles that control facial expressions, such as smiling. Many of these muscles also help you talk, chew, swallow, and even speak. Weak muscles of the tongue, lips and jaw, and poor coordination of these muscles can cause a wide variety of health issues, including sleep apnea, speech disorders, and even crooked teeth. Myofunctional therapy is a non-invasive and effective treatment that strengthens facial muscles and improves muscle coordination.
Myofunctional therapy corrects improper muscle function through a series of exercises, which strengthen and improve coordination of the muscles serving the tongue, lips, and jaw. Customized to your specific needs, these exercises may be done in the comfort of your own home or with the guidance of a trained therapist.
Suitable for both children and adults, myofunctional therapy is non-invasive and drug-free. It may be used alone or in conjunction with other therapies, such as speech therapy and orthodontic appliances. Performing myofunctional therapy takes only a few minutes each day.
The exercises performed in myofunctional therapy, also known as tongue therapy or oral myofunctional therapy, retrains the muscles in your face and mouth to improve the function of these muscles and to help correct any improper habits or postures. Myofunctional therapy exercises may focus on strengthening your lips, improving the placement of your tongue, or optimizing the position of your jaw. Improving muscle function through myofunctional therapy can help improve overall health and address a wide range of conditions.
Children may develop some bad habits as they grow. One bad habit is poor oral resting posture, which is how a child holds their mouth. Signs of poor oral resting posture include mouth breathing, being unable to close their lips fully, and holding their jaw off to one side. Poor oral resting posture may also include pushing their tongue too far forward in their mouth, also known as tongue thrust, or resting their tongue too far back in their mouth.
Without treatment, poor oral resting posture can lead to health and developmental issues in children. Mouth breathing is linked to increased illness and allergies, for example, and can also result in dry mouth and overall poor oral hygiene. Poor oral posture can cause dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects the jaw to the skull. Improper oral resting posture affects the growth of jaw and facial structures, and may even cause delayed or improper development that may lead to problems with chewing and swallowing.
Improved sleep is one of the key benefits of myofunctional therapy. This treatment helps address sleep apnea, for example. Sleep apnea is a common condition in which you stop breathing dozens of times while you sleep, which can lead to a number of health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. The condition often occurs when the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses and blocks your airway. Myofunctional therapy helps improve sleep by strengthening the muscles of the mouth and throat to help prevent airway blockage and the sleep apnea it causes, leading to more restful and restorative sleep.
A number of factors, including improper muscle function in the mouth and face, can cause speech problems. These problems may include poor articulation, which affects the way a person makes sounds. Producing spoken sounds requires coordinated movements of the lips, tongue, and teeth. People with an articulation disorder may lisp or be unable to produce certain sounds, such as making the “r” sound to say the word “rabbit.”
Myofunctional therapy can help to address articulation disorders and other underlying issues by retraining and strengthening the muscles and improving their coordination.
Improper muscle function in the mouth and face can lead to crowded or misaligned teeth, which can negatively affect a person’s smile and interfere with their ability to eat and speak properly. Orthodontic treatment can help straighten teeth, but ignoring the underlying myofunctional disorder may cause the teeth to move out of place after treatment is done.
Myofunctional therapy can be beneficial for patients undergoing orthodontic treatment because it addresses the underlying issues, improves the alignment of the teeth, and reduces the likelihood that the teeth will drift out of place again. Because it strengthens the muscles of the face and mouth, myofunctional therapy can also help support and optimize orthodontic treatment, thereby reducing the need for more invasive interventions such as braces or surgery.
For more information about myofunctional therapy for adults and children, consult with your dentist in Stuart, FL. The dentists at Aesthetic Dentistry of Stuart are passionate about helping people improve their quality of life through advanced treatments, such as myofunctional therapy for children and adults.