Many times, our patients hear me advise myofunctional therapy as an adjuvant therapy. Many of them understand when I compare it to physical therapy for analogy but many others don’t.
So let’s take a deeper dive into what exactly myofunctional therapy is and who it benefits.
Myo stands for muscle, so “myo” functional therapy is therapy directed at correcting the factors that cause or contribute to dysfunctional oral habits ( like tongue thrusting, thumb sucking, lip biting, or mouth breathing.) or poor muscle tone leading to developmental or other defects.
It involves exercises and techniques that are designed to strengthen and retrain the muscles and the function of the tongue, lips, and cheeks to improve the overall oral function and posture.
As with physical therapy analogy, good muscular posture leads to long term “skeletal” or bone/ hard tissue health.
In the oral/ craniofacial area specifically, poor functional posture from the muscle can lead to poor development of the lower facial area, mouth breathing, increased risk of upper respiratory tract infection, crowding of teeth and malocclusion, lisp and other speech defects, a traumatic bite due to non- conducive or sub optimal position of teeth, TMJ issues over the long run, poor airway patency etc.
Myofunctional therapy can help in a number of ways, including:
– Improving speech and articulation
– Improving range of motion with a tongue tie
– Presurgical therapy to tongue tie release
– Prevention of reattachment
– Proper growth and development of jaws and other facial structure
– Optimal teeth position and stability
– Reducing or eliminating snoring and sleep apnea
– Improving swallowing and chewing
– Improving oral hygiene and reducing the risk of dental problems
– Improving facial aesthetics and muscle tone
– Reducing risk of upper respiratory tract infections and allergies
– Reversing or stabilizing TMJ problems.
The therapy is typically conducted either by a dentist who specializes in the same, a hygienist with advanced training or a myofunctional therapist who will first conduct an evaluation to assess the individual’s oral function and identify any underlying issues. Based on the evaluation, a customized treatment plan will be developed, which may involve a combination of exercises, use of certain therapeutic devices, dietary changes, breathing techniques, and behavioral modifications or a combination of all of the above.
Myofunctional therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as orthodontic or sleep apnea treatment, to optimize the overall results.
It is advocated for people of all ages, from children to older adults. The duration of treatment may vary from a few weeks to several months, depending on the individual’s needs and progress is monitored. Often additional radiographs are used to track initial presentation and monitor progress when done under the dentist’s supervision.
Several new and lifestyle products like a water bottle designed by REMplenish©️ to increase accessibility to myofunctional therapy in everyday life, appear promising.
Article ©️ of Dr.Aarthi Raghavan, BDS, DMD, D.ABDSM