FBpixel ...

From Diagnosis to Treatment: Navigating Myofunctional Therapy for Success

Understanding Myofunctional Therapy

When people think of speech therapy, they typically think of people who have trouble speaking or articulating their thoughts. However, there’s a different kind of therapy available that’s less well known. Myofunctional therapy is often used by speech therapists to correct various disorders that are related to the muscles of facial expression and swallowing. This article will provide an overview of what myofunctional therapy is, how it’s used, and what it can treat.

Myofunctional therapy is one pillar of speech and language pathology interventions. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), it focuses on the assessment and treatment of disorders of oral function, such as tongue thrust, mouth breathing, and abnormal tongue resting posture. Myofunctional therapists work with both children and adults to correct these disorders and improve oral function. This can lead to better communication, eating and swallowing, and even dental health.

Common Issues Myofunctional Therapy Addresses

Myofunctional therapy primarily addresses disorders of the mouth, nose, jaw, and tongue. It can help with a variety of conditions, including:

• TMD (temporomandibular disorder)

• Bruxism (teeth grinding)

• Issues with tongue movement

• Incorrect swallowing patterns

• Open bite

• Airway issues

• Craniofacial abnormalities

• Tongue thrust

• Snoring

Diagnosis for Myofunctional Therapy

Before beginning myofunctional therapy, a speech therapist will typically conduct a thorough evaluation to determine if the patient could benefit from this intervention. Depending on the issues at hand, this evaluation could include a clinical exam, record-keeping, questionnaires, and additional tools like radiologic and endoscopic procedures. The therapist will then create an individualized treatment plan that best suits the needs of each patient.

Treatment for Myofunctional Therapy

Once the evaluation is complete, the therapist will discuss the findings with the patient and develop a personalized treatment plan. One of the main goals of myofunctional therapy is to help the individual practice proper muscle movements in the mouth and face. This is usually achieved through a combination of exercise, behavioral protocols, and neuromuscular re-education. The therapist may also provide the patient with behaviors to avoid, such as mouth breathing or tongue thrust, and suggest ways to engage in more beneficial activities.

Treatment can also include the provision of certain devices to help support the new behaviors. Functional appliances, for example, can help to encourage downward and forward growth of the oral structures. Soft tissue laser therapy can also be used to help break down scar tissue and remove restrictions in the muscles. Finally, myofunctional therapy works best when it’s combined with dental treatment, such as orthodontics, to help reestablish an effective, functional bite.

Success of Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy can help improve the strength, mobility, and coordination of the oral structures. And while improvement can vary from person to person, a study published in the International Journal of Dental Sciences and Research found that 90% of people showed improvement after myofunctional therapy. This study and others suggest that this intervention can be incredibly effective for addressing a wide range of issues.

It’s important to note, however, that success is typically contingent on the participation of the patient. As myofunctional therapy is a behaviorally based approach, the patient must fully engage in changing his or her habits to experience optimal results. This means frequent practice and compliance with the therapist’s recommendations.

The Bottom Line

Myofunctional therapy is a powerful tool for addressing a range of oral muscle and skeletal issues. This intervention can be effective for treating conditions such as TMD, open bite, tongue thrust, and swallowing issues, among others. It can also provide a non-invasive, alternative treatment to more traditional dentofacial orthopedic approaches. Successfully navigating myofunctional therapy requires a thorough evaluation, treatment plan, and patient participation. However, given the encouraging evidence in its favor, it’s worth considering this approach for anyone dealing with oral muscle and skeletal issues.