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Myofunctional Therapy: A Hidden Gem in Oral Health Care

Myofunctional therapy is an interdisciplinary treatment approach that aims to target dysfunctional muscle patterns in the mouth and face. It incorporates techniques from physical therapy, speech pathology, dentistry, and nutrition to correct these muscle patterns and improve overall function. While myofunctional therapy has been around for decades, it is just now gaining traction in the field of dentistry as a powerful tool for achieving and maintaining optimal oral health.

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Myofunctional therapy focuses on the way that different muscles in the mouth, cheeks, lips, tongue, and face are working together to produce proper function. When these muscles are not functioning harmoniously, it can lead to a range of issues such as:

  • Difficulty with swallowing;
  • Noisy or irregular breathing patterns, particularly during sleep;
  • Speech difficulties;
  • Jaw, muscle, or TMJ pain;
  • Orthodontic problems;
  • Enlarged tongue;
  • Problems with chewing or biting; and
  • Severe dental problems.

Myofunctional therapy involves a variety of exercises, stretches, and other non-invasive modalities to re-train these muscles in order to achieve balance and, ultimately, improved function. It’s a comprehensive approach that looks at the patient as a whole, considering not only the structural components of the mouth and face, but also how the treatment will impact overall health and well-being.

How Do You Know if You Need Myofunctional Therapy?

A qualified myofunctional therapist will be able to conduct an assessment to determine if you or your child are candidates for myofunctional therapy. Generally speaking, those exhibiting any of the following symptoms should consider seeing a qualified professional:

  • Frequent mouth breathing or snoring;
  • A frequent or dry mouth;
  • Inability to breathe easily through the nose for extended periods of time;
  • Dental issues such as poor oral posture, open bite, or overbite;
  • Difficulty with speech;
  • Chronic pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders; and
  • Referred pain from the temporomandibular joint (jaw popping or clicking).

The Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy offers a range of benefits, including improved oral health, better breathing patterns, reduction of pain, and improved fitness. Furthermore, the overall health benefits derived from proper function of the muscles in the face and mouth are numerous:

  • Improved digestion;
  • Reduced risk of developing sleep apnea;
  • Reduce risk of developing chronic pain conditions;
  • Improved posture;
  • Reduced risk of developing sinus infections;
  • Improved swallowing and chewing;
  • Improved speech; and
  • Enhanced orthodontic outcomes.

Poor oral function can also have a significant impact on emotional well-being. Children and adults with dysfunctional oral muscles can often experience issues with speech, eating, and self-esteem. When these issues are addressed with myofunctional therapy, it can lead to an improved overall quality of life.

Conclusion

Myofunctional therapy offers a comprehensive, non-invasive approach to addressing the root cause of many oral and facial function issues. It’s an excellent tool for individuals struggling with chronic dental and muscle pain, orthodontic issues, breathing issues, and speech difficulties. Beyond this, the overall health benefits derived from improved oral function are numerous and long-lasting.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above or are looking for an alternative solution to address a chronic condition, myofunctional therapy may be worth considering. Talk to a qualified practitioner in your area to learn more about what myofunctional therapy can do for you or your child.

Contact Dr. Jane Timm, DDS to schedule a complimentary consultation. Dr.Timm is a registered Dental Hygienist and licensed {{Dentist}} who specializes in all aspects of oral
health.