Myofunctional Therapy

We Work With Patients Of All Ages To Help Treat The Following Issues:

  • Thumb, Finger, and Other Negative Oral Habits
  • Mouth Breathing and Open Lips/Mouth Posture
  • Tongue Thrust for Speech and Speech Articulation Issues
  • Tongue Thrust for Chewing and Swallowing
  • Incorrect Tongue Positioning at Rest
  • Drooling
  • Chewing and Eating Difficulties
  • Mouth, Face, and Jaw Muscle Problems and Pain
  • Orthodontic cases (including orthodontic relapse)
  • We work with many orthodontists resolving the myofunctional issues of patients in order to help the teeth and mouth achieve a desired position pre, during, and post orthodontics. Myofunctional therapy can also help prevent orthodontic relapse once orthodontic appliances are removed

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

WHAT IS MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY?

Myofunctional therapy is a program used to correct the improper function of the tongue and facial muscles. It involves strengthening of the tongue and orofacial muscles by teaching individuals how to engage the muscles to the appropriate position.

WHAT IS A MYOFUNCTIONAL DISORDER?

A myofunctional disorder is any disturbance in the correct positioning or functioning of the muscles and structures of the mouth. When the mouth does not rest in the “physiologic rest posture”, as described above, and/or when the tongue is pushing on or between the teeth when chewing and swallowing, a variety of negative impacts can occur. Any structural difference that affects a person’s ability to breathe through the nose (including large tonsils and/or adenoids) can cause a variety of myofunctional disorders.

 

Oral and Dental Development…

Abnormal pressures from the tongue on the teeth, clenching/grinding, tongue tie, and anything that disrupts the correct rest posture of the tongue/lips/jaws will likely affect tooth position, dental development, palate shape, development of the nasal cavity, proper breathing and oxygen intake, sleep breathing, and quality of life. Importantly, habits and sucking habits such as thumb sucking, pacifier use, sippy cup use, nail biting (to name a few), can adversely affect the development of the mouth.

 

Sleep Disordered Breathing, Snoring, and Sleep Apnea…

Our tongue has the ability to fall back into our airway when sleeping, which can disrupt breathing and oxygen intake. When the tongue does not maintain its correct resting posture (on the roof of the mouth) with the lips closed when a person is sleeping, that person is susceptible to snoring, apnea, and sleep breathing issues. When a person snores, has sleep apnea, or any sleep breathing issue in which the tongue blocks the airway, that can cause a reduction of oxygen intake throughout the night and may stop a person from entering deeper sleep cycles which are necessary for adequate health and functioning. The adrenaline released when a person with sleep apnea wakes up to gasp for air also has negative implications on blood pressure and the heart. Sleep breathing disorders affect a person’s health, mood, growth, development and quality of life.

 

Speech Articulation and Myofunctional Disorders…

81% of children with speech articulation issues also have myofunctional issues, and if the myofunctional issue is not treated, the speech articulation challenge may never fully resolve.

 

HOW DOES MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY WORK?

The orofacial muscles and the functions of those muscles are capable of change with DISCIPLINE and TIME.

DISCIPLINE is defined as training of the physical powers by exercises, instructions and control.

  • EXERCISES tone the muscles, changing their shape, strength, range of motion and their ability to coordinate with other muscles.
  • INSTRUCTIONS develop consistent production of the correct functions.
  • CONTROL of the new functions through self-monitoring and
    self-correction in order to habituate the correct functions.

TIME is an essential element in the process of rehabilitating the orofacial muscles and the functions.

  • It will take time to tone the muscles with the exercises.
  • It will take time to retrain the muscles to function correctly through the instructions.
  • It will take time to control the correct muscle functions in order to form new habits.

The principles of myofunctional therapy are the same for children, adolescents or adults: exercises, instructions on normal function and learning to control the new function.

WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERNED?

A myofunctional disorder can have significant effects on the following:

  • Dental Development: Orthodontists have been concerned about myofunctional disorders since the early 1900’s because the abnormal functions and postures of myofunctional disorders can adversely influence dental growth, slow orthodontic treatment and can undermine the stability of the correction which can cause the teeth to relapse after orthodontics. Just as orthodontic appliances such as braces can move teeth, the abnormal pressures from the tongue will adversely influence the development of the mouth
  • Speech Articulation: Research has revealed a high incidence of speech problems in those individuals who exhibit myofunctional disorders. The /s/ sound is the most common, others are /z/,/sh/, /ch/,/j/, /t/, /n/ and /r/. 81% of children with speech articulation issues also have myofunctional issues, and if the myofunctional issue is not treated, the speech articulation challenge may never fully resolve.
  • Eating and Digestion: Individuals who exhibit myofunctional disorders frequently have poor chewing/eating functions such as being noisy and messy eaters, swallowing food without fully chewing it, and chewing food with their lips open. All this can have a negative impact on digestion.
  • TMJ Dysfunction and Facial Pain: The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) may be negatively affected when a myofunctional disorder is present, thus causing facial pain and other oral-facial problems.