Do you suffer from sleep apnea, tongue tie or snoring? Do you have an overbite or underbite? If you do, you have likely sought solutions to these issues, but you may have only been left with more questions than answers. For some issues like tongue tie, a surgical procedure called a frenectomy may be recommended. For sleep apnea, you may be prescribed CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy. You may even be recommended braces or a sleep orthotic, depending on your specific issue.
But what you may not have heard about is a type of physical therapy called myofunctional therapy. Myofunctional therapy is a special type of physical therapy that helps to correct problems in the muscles of the mouth, face and neck. Myofunctional therapy uses oral exercises to help improve symptoms of the above-mentioned issues and can even improve posture, digestion, headaches, and neck and jaw pain.
What Is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional therapy is physical therapy for the head and neck. It is usually performed by training your tongue to complete a variety of exercises that strengthen it, making it easier to chew, speak and breathe. If you are a mouth breather or have a tongue tie, myofunctional therapy can be especially effective, particularly in the before-and-after care of a frenectomy procedure.
How Common Are Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?
Believe it or not, orofacial myofunctional disorders are present in about 38 percent of the population! Still, the problem is largely undiagnosed, making exact numbers hard to know.
Most orofacial myofunctional disorders cause issues such as incorrect positioning of the lips and tongue when in a resting position, improper swallowing patterns, and bad oral habits, including thumb and finger sucking, nail biting, lip biting, lip licking, and tongue and lick sucking.
Who Is Myofunctional Therapy For?
Myofunctional therapy is for anyone, adult or child. If the following sounds like you, you could be an excellent candidate for myofunctional therapy:
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Mouth breathers or those who struggle to breathe through their nose
- People who do not get a good night’s sleep and experience excessive daytime sleepiness
- Children with enlarged tonsils that cause airway obstruction (adenotonsillar hypertrophy)
- People with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD)
- People who have undergone jaw surgery
- People with cleft palate
- People who have had orthognathic surgery (jaw reconstruction)
- People who have suffered neck or head trauma or those who have had an injury to their jaw area
What Are Some Common Myofunctional Therapy Exercises?
When you are prescribed myofunctional therapy, you will be prescribed a specific set of exercises that will be customized to your individual problem areas. Some of the most common exercises that you could be prescribed include:
Tongue Pushups: To perform a tongue pushup, simply push the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, behind your upper teeth, pressing upward for five-second intervals.
Vowel Practice: Practice saying your vowels out loud (a, e, i, o, u) several times per day.
Tongue Click: Use your tongue to make a clicking sound by repeatedly tapping it against the roof of your mouth. Do this for 15 seconds at a time, repeating 10 times.
The Tongue in Cheek: Push your tongue against your cheek and press on your tongue through your cheek with the tip of your finger for 10 seconds. Repeat this 10 times.
Tongue Stretching: Sticking your tongue out sideways to the left, stretch it as far as you can. Hold your tongue in place for 10 seconds. After 10 repetitions, the repeat on the right side.
Tongue Rolling: Sticking out your tongue, roll it so it looks like a taco shell, and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
Sing: Put on some music and start singing along. This will not only exercise your vocal cords, but it will also help strengthen them, and it has been shown to help prevent snoring.
Tongue Thrusts: Holding a spoon in your mouth, thrust your tongue against the spoon for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
While these are just some of the exercises you may be prescribed with myofunctional therapy, they should give you a general idea of what to expect during your therapy appointment. Following your treatment, you will likely be prescribed “homework” in the form of exercises you should be doing at home to help keep up the good work.
Are You Ready To Try Myofunctional Therapy?
If you’re ready to start myofunctional therapy, contact Dr. Morgan’s office for a consultation today.