Myofunctional Therapy Can Help You

Myofunctional Therapy
Even if you’ve never heard of myofunctional therapy chances are you are aware of the many ailments it can improve or even cure. OMD, or orofacial myofunctional disorders, are patterns of incorrect facial muscle movements. They can lead to TMJD, sleep apnea, or even physical changes in the face. Myofunctional therapy is a special treatment that can retrain your facial muscles to perform correctly and reduce or eliminate symptoms of many disorders.

Do you know about OMDs?

Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) can negatively affect the muscles (myo) of the mouth (oro) and face (facial) and cause atypical muscle movement patterns. As the muscles of the face and mouth are connected, these negative patterns can, in turn, affect how you eat, breathe and talk.

Some studies indicate that nearly 40 percent of the general population and more than 81 percent of children have experienced speech and/or articulation problems caused by OMDs. Many of those affected by OMDs can experience severe consequences, including facial and skeletal growth and development issues, bite alignment problems, stress on the jaw joints, the development of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), unbalanced facial appearance and the development of sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.

OMDs can also negatively impact your oral hygiene and cause past and future orthodontic treatments to become unstable.

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THINGS TO LOOK FOR

What Are the Signs of OMDs?

Some signs of OMDs to look out for, particularly in children, include:

  • Extended thumb sucking
  • Extended finger sucking
  • Poor oral resting posture with the lips apart
  • Adopting a forward resting head posture
  • Insufficient room in the jaws for correct tongue placement, which causes the tongue to press between or against the teeth
  • Tongue thrusting against the teeth
  • Nail biting
  • Cheek sucking
  • Genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome
  • Development disorders

These habits may seem relatively harmless, especially in young children. But over time, they can cause several serious problems, including TMD, periodontal disease, tooth loss, breathing disorders, and even sleep and behavior disorders. Some sufferers of untreated OMDs also experience digestive problems because improper swallowing can cause gastrointestinal issues and contribute to unhealthy dietary choices.

What Causes Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

In most cases, a single root cause of any OMD is hard to determine. Many orofacial myofunctional disorders develop with a combination of several factors, such as:

  • Tongue-ties
  • Lip-ties
  • Obstructed or restricted upper airway
  • Enlarged tonsils/adenoids
  • Deviated septum
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Enlarged or irritated nasal turbinates
  • Chronic allergies or chronic illness affecting the upper airway
  • Extended use of pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups
  • Family history of OMDs
  • Genetic defects
  • Developmental delays
  • Neurological defects

Are OMDs a Cause of Concern?

Yes, as we mentioned, OMDs can have severe consequences if left untreated. The effects of untreated OMDs include:

  • Breathing impairment
  • Increased seasonal allergies
  • Asthma
  • Chronic sore throats, swollen tonsils and swollen adenoids
  • Poor oral habits and behaviors that can impair proper jaw growth and development
  • Difficulties chewing and swallowing
  • Tongue thrust when eating
  • Food aversions, picky eating and texture issues
  • Speech impairment and speech delays
  • Inadequate jaw growth
  • Restricted facial development
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Jaw pain and an increased risk for the development of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
  • Chronic facial pain
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
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OMDs and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Some studies have also shown that these disorders can cause an increase in the development of the sleep breathing disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) for some individuals. This is because OMDs can cause the tongue, throat, and facial muscles to obstruct the airway, cutting off oxygen flow during sleep and leading to an increased risk of chronic and potentially deadly illness.

MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE

Who Benefits from Myofunctional Therapy?

MFT is for all ages. It is essential to address OMDs and myofunctional impairments sooner rather than later, especially for children since they have a limited craniofacial development window. Facial development is mostly complete by age 10 to 12, so waiting can mean possible permanent consequences.

Adults can accomplish great success with therapy at any age, but the sooner, the better.

How Myofunctional Therapy Can Help

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a treatment protocol designed to train or retrain the face’s muscles to achieve normal resting posture of the tongue, lips, and jaw through specific and targeted exercises.

At Breathe Modern Dentistry, we offer our patients myofunctional therapy as part of our comprehensive care approach. Our myofunctional treatment is highly personalized, and the exercises are prescribed with your or your child’s specific needs in mind.

We are here to help you overcome orofacial myofunctional disorders and achieve better oral and overall health.

Myofunctional therapy can help you or your child:

  • Understand the importance of good oral rest posture
  • Practice proper tongue position/proper oral rest posture
  • Understand the importance of nasal breathing and stop mouth breathing
  • Retrain or train your tongue, mouth and facial muscles to overcome OMDs, improve your sleep, and improve speech and breathing
  • Reduce jaw pain and the risk of developing TMD
  • Eat, drink and swallow correctly
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Improve confidence in appearance
  • Potentially avoid orthodontic interventions such as braces in the future
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