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If you are not sleeping, breathing and/or chewing well, it’s physically impossible to be optimally healthy! No matter what your age, you can work on retraining your oral-facial and neck muscles to help you achieve better sleep, as well as proper breathing and digestion.
Myofunctional therapy is a highly effective, painless way to activate proper alignment and function of the facial muscles. It is a program of exercises that help restore strength and coordination and retrains muscles of the face and tongue to optimize complex functions such as breathing, chewing, swallowing, speaking, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, facial esthetics and facial skeletal growth. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) instills positive habits to ensure those changes last a lifetime.
What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Poor oral behaviors, also known as myofunctional habits, have been found to be the main cause of most orthodontic issues. These habits can include improper swallowing, breathing through the mouth, thumb sucking, and more. Through special oral and facial exercises known as myofunctional therapy, the root of these concerns (e.g., misaligned teeth, crowding, and improper jaw development) can be addressed and corrected.
Traditional orthodontic treatment typically involves waiting until all permanent teeth have grown in, and uses tooth extractions and braces to straighten teeth and realign the jaw. Although this approach is generally the most effective way to straighten teeth, it does not address the underlying cause(s) of orthodontic issues, which means most results will not be permanent without the help of retainers. Conversely, myofunctional therapy is designed to pinpoint and correct these behaviors, even in young children whose jaws and teeth are still developing.
What is the Myofunctional Therapy Process Like?
In your consultation, Dr. Gorman can create a personalized treatment plan based on you or your child’s unique needs. Myofunctional therapy consists of specific oral and facial exercises designed to address the myofunctional habits that cause orthodontic and/or breathing issues. Patients will be asked to perform these exercises regularly to help develop healthier habits and realign the jaw muscles. In some cases, an oral appliance may be required to help train the tongue and jaw. Additionally, certain patients may need braces for a short period of time after myofunctional therapy has been completed.
How Long Does Myofunctional Therapy Take?
The amount of time it takes for correction to occur with myofunctional therapy depends on the severity of issues, as well as the patient’s commitment to performing the exercises as directed (for young patients, this also includes parent participation to ensure their child completes the exercises). Many patients are able to finish therapy in approximately six months to a year.
Do I Need Myofunctional Therapy?
- Is your child a picky eater?
- Do you have chronic jaw pain?
- Are you frustrated that speech therapy has not fixed the problem?
- Has your child been diagnosed with a disorder such as Apraxia?
- Has your dentist pointed out an overbite caused by “tongue thrust”?
- Does your infant have difficulty feeding?
Children and adults with Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) may struggle with:
- Mouth Breathing
- Bottle feeding
- Thumb,finger, & pacifier sucking
- Long Face Syndrome
- Tongue thrusting
- Reverse swallow
- Lisping / Speech issues
- Poor posture/ Leaning on chin
- Cheek or lip biting
- Picky/ Messy eating
- Snoring/ Sleep issues
- Crowded teeth
- Grinding, clenching, Bruxism
What Are the Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy?
Patients who have undergone treatment have regained enjoyment of eating, breathing, speaking even sleeping more soundly. We also see many patients who suffer from TMJ Dysfunction or Obstructive Sleep Apnea who have found improvement in symptoms after therapy. Additionally, when the muscles tighten the face looks better, younger, and lifted without injections or surgery. It has been reported that in Brazil plastic surgeons work with Orofacial Myotherapists to get the best benefit for their patients.
In some cases, orofacial dysfunction is the result of constraints caused by frenum, muscular attachments in the mouth found between the gums and lips, as well as beneath the tongue. The two types of frenum, characterized as labial and lingual, can result in a range of physiological symptoms that affect a patient’s quality of life.
The superior labial frenulum is the strip of muscle that extends between the center of the gums and the two front teeth to the inside of the top lip (similarly, the inferior labial frenulum connects the lower lip to the gums). The lingual frenulum is found where the tongue meets the floor of the mouth. These oral soft tissues contain many tiny fibers that extend all the way to the chest and spine, creating an impact on other structures of the body that may not be entirely obvious. If the frenum are too restrictive, common symptoms include large gaps between the two front teeth, gum recession, problems when eating and speaking, and even shoulder and neck pain.
To address these concerns, a frenectomy can be performed to release the muscular attachment(s) from the gums. This simple procedure is utilized in a number of circumstances, including:
- When the lingual frenulum is inhibiting proper eating or speaking function
- In the event that oral restrictions are causing discomfort, pain, or tension
- When optimal orofacial function is inhibited by a restrictive frenulum
Dr. Gorman offers functional frenectomy as an in-office procedure and can perform a thorough examination to identify whether frenal restraint is the cause of your symptoms. Many patients notice a variety of physiological improvements after a frenectomy, such as relaxed shoulders, improved posture, easier breathing, and enhanced biting function, among other advancements. However, undergoing myofunctional therapy before and after a functional frenectomy is imperative to the success of the procedure in effectively repatterning the behavior of the tongue and lips for long-lasting results. With this comprehensive approach—considered an osteopathically-guided functional frenectomy—patients can restore the full integrity of their orofacial structures, recover their physiological wellness, and improve their quality of life.
If you think you or your child may be able to benefit from myofunctional therapy, please do not hesitate to contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Gorman.