Nearly 48% of the population have orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD). They occur when an abnormal jaw, lip, or tongue position interferes with the development and function of your oral and facial structures.
When you suffer from an OMD, it may increase your risk of having an abnormal bite or malocclusion. It may also lead to speech problems and sleep-disordered breathing.
Fortunately, you can correct an OMD with myofunctional therapy. This safe and relatively inexpensive can improve your oral health, smile, and facial aesthetics. Keep reading to learn more about myofunctional therapy, how it works, what it consists of, and its benefits.
What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional therapy is an exercise program that targets the muscles around your mouth, tongue, and face. It uses tailored neuromuscular re-education exercises to help normalize your oral and facial structures.
These exercises aim to improve your tongue position, nasal breathing, lip seal, and facial posture. Myofunctional therapy can help:
- Treat malocclusion
- Improve eating function after surgery
- Treat sleep-disordered breathing such as obstructive sleep apnea and snoring
- Correct the position of the tongue at rest and during a swallow.
- Treat tongue thrust— when your tongue presses forward too far in your mouth
- Treat speech disorders
How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?
Myofunctional therapy is similar to physical therapy for your face. This type of therapy should be done by a dental professional with advanced myofunctional training and certifications.
Your myofunctional therapist will evaluate you and create an individualized treatment plan to retrain your orofacial muscles. Your plan comprises several exercises to help ease the oral myofunctional disorder symptoms.
As you retrain your muscles, the therapist will help you increase awareness of your facial and oral muscles. They may also give you exercises to complete at home to focus on ideal tongue resting patterns, breathing, and swallowing. Practicing these movements will help increase your muscle coordination and strength.
Myofunctional Therapy Exercises
Myofunctional therapy exercises can be done by children who are 6 years and older as well as adults. Ensure you speak with your dental care provider before you undertake the exercises. Examples of exercises your myofunctional therapist may have you perform include:
Place the tip of your tongue against your hard palate—on your mouth’s roof, just behind the top teeth — and push it back towards the throat and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Stick out your tongue and attempt to touch the tip of your nose. Hold for about ten seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
Stick out your tongue and attempt to lick the bottom of your chin. Hold for about 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
Left and Right Tongue Hold
With your tongue sticking out, move it to the left as far as you can and hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times. Do the same movement but on your right side.
Force the back of your tongue against your hard palate while ensuring the tip is in contact with your bottom front teeth. Repeat the movement 20 times.
Fold the edges of your tongue towards the middle lengthwise, so it resembles the end of a taco shell. Stick it out as far as you can while maintaining the roll and hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.
Make loud clicking sounds with your tongue against the hard palate for 15 seconds. Then, repeat the sequence 10 times.
Elevate your uvula and soft palate while saying the vowel “A” about 20 times. Also, practice saying each vowel out loud for three minutes.
Hold a spoon in front of your lips and push the tip of your tongue firmly against it for 10 seconds. Make sure your tongue is straight and doesn’t point downwards. Repeat the motion 10 times.
Place a spoon’s handle between your lips. Using only your lips, hold it in place for ten seconds. Try to keep the handle parallel to the floor.
Also, don’t place it between your teeth. As your strength improves, you can start placing small objects on the spoon for added weight like a sugar cube). Repeat the exercise 10 times.
Take 5 large breaths through your nose and exhale into a balloon as much as you can. Repeat at least twice.
Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy
Still not convinced about myofunctional therapy? Here is how myofunctional therapy can help your entire body.
Improve Quality of Sleep
Sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing can make it impossible for you to achieve proper rest. Myofunctional therapy aims to condition the muscles in the upper airway to help keep your airways open.
It can also help reposition your tongue and improve your nasal breathing to ensure the airways are clear. As a result, it can limit sleep disorders so that you can get a good night’s rest.
Relieve Jaw Pain
Suffering from temporomandibular disorders or TMDs?
Myofunctional therapy can help relieve TMD pain. It focuses on strengthening your oral and facial muscles so that they’re properly aligned. This helps reduce pain and other TMD symptoms like teeth grinding without invasive treatment.
Alleviate Digestive Problems
Orofacial myofunctional disorders can make it hard to chew and digest foods well. This can lead to digestive problems such as stomach upsets and acid reflux. Myofunctional therapy can help you regain your ability to thoroughly chew foods so that you don’t experience any digestive issues
Improve Facial Appearance
With myofunctional therapy, you can achieve more than just a straighter smile. This can help improve your facial aesthetics. As a result, it can also boost your self-confidence.
When Do You Need Myofunctional Therapy
You should consider visiting a dental professional for myofunctional therapy when you notice the following symptoms of OMD:
- Misaligned teeth
- Teeth grinding
- Facial pain
- Mouth breathing
- Jaw pain
- Tongue thrusting
- Speech problems
- Sleep apnea
- Digestive issues
Get Professional Myofunctional Therapy Today
For effective myofunctional therapy sessions, you need to visit an expert. At Brushin’ on Belmont, our myofunctional therapist can help children and adults how to use their tongue and facial muscles correctly.
Contact us today to book an appointment.