Myofunctional therapy is about all of the facial muscles including your cheeks, your lips, and especially your tongue, and how they work together for function.
In fact, these functions have been linked right back to whether a patient was breast fed or not as a child. In general, breast fed children will develop the strength and dexterity in their tongue which helps form the foundations of these functions, and ensure their tongue will sit high on the roof of their mouth. On the other hand, in some children the tongue will sit low in the mouth, meaning their facial posture changes, leading to functional issues. This could be caused by a variety of things, including a tongue tie.
What is myofunctional therapy?
Myofunctional therapy is about assisting the function of all of the facial muscles. This includes your cheeks, your lips, and your tongue. In fact, these functions have been linked right back to whether a patient was breast fed or not as a child.
Myofunctional therapy combines physical therapy exercises to improve the bite, breathing, and facial posture of those with orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). The treatment will be customised based on the patient’s age and symptoms.
Myofunctional disorders can also impact and damage your oral health. The disorder can lead to tooth decay and gum disease as abnormal lip, tongue and jaw position can influence regular tongue activity and saliva flow. Saliva flow is extremely important to fight bacteria and plaque in the mouth
What causes myofunctional disorders?
Myofunctional disorders occur when tongue position interferes with your oral and facial structures, development, and function. Common causes of orofacial myofunctional disorders include:
- Upper airway obstruction
- Chronic thumb-sucking or extended pacifier/ bottle use
- Orofacial muscular and structural differences
Orofacial myofunctional disorders can impact breastfeeding, chewing, swallowing, and talking.
Tongue ties, and the importance of tongue posture
The tongue should sit on the roof of the mouth, however, patients with tongue ties cannot physically do that.
In myofunctional therapy, it will be examined if there is a tongue tie present in the patient, to determine if they can touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue. If the patient is also unable to swallow with their tongue on the roof of their mouth, or swallow with their lips closed together, then it is likely they are forming incorrect habits that can cause problems and even pain.
If a tongue tie is present, it may be required to refer the patient to a specialist to address their tongue tie prior to any exercises which will help their functionality.
In general, breast-fed children will develop the strength and dexterity in their tongue which helps form the foundations of these functions, and ensure their tongue will sit high on the roof of their mouth. On the other hand, in some children the tongue will sit low in the mouth, meaning their facial posture changes, leading to functional issues. This could be caused by a variety of things, including a tongue tie.
Myofunctional therapy for children
Previously, if a child was grinding their teeth, it was seen as normal, and that they would grow out of it. However, there are now indicators that children cannot breathe well through their nose, leading to grinding and snoring, which will need to be examined, which will include:
- Airway issues
- Enlarged tonsils
- Large adenoids
- Throat infections
If your child has these symptoms, they will likely be referred to their GP and ENT to establish if anything can be resolved. In some cases, the child may need their tonsils or adenoids removed, or if there may be a nasal obstruction that requires addressing.
Once these symptoms have been resolved, parents find their child will begin to sleep through the night, cease snoring and may even notice an improvement in their behaviour.
Why is airway function important?
Airway function is vital to minimise oral issues and improve overall health. When our lips, tongue and cheeks stop working cohesively to create the correct form and function for our airways, a range of issues including snoring, teeth grinding and sleep apnoea may occur.
Addressing these functional issues, may effectively treat these issues, helping restore your oral and overall health.
How does myofunctional therapy work?
At Dental Pearls in Brisbane CBD, we will create an individualised program based on your age and symptoms. This program will aim to retrain your orofacial muscles and improve function. Training will include targeting the posture of your tongue and lips, establishing nasal breathing pattern, and reducing and eliminating habits such as thumb sucking.
Over time, your orofacial myofunctional symptoms will reduce, speaking will be enhanced, eating will be more relaxed and sleeping will be more comfortable.
Myofunctional therapy at Dental Pearls
Dental Pearls in Brisbane CBD is pleased to be able to help our patients address the wide range of health issues which are associated with airway issues through myofunctional therapy. If you are considering treating your orofacial myofunctional disease, or would like more information about the therapy, contact us here today or call us on (07) 3210 2144!