Myofunctional therapy is a treatment process designed to assist people of all ages in improving proper alignment of their facial muscles. Intricate but common functions associated with the mouth such as breathing and chewing, as well as swallowing, speaking, and even sleeping, can be greatly improved for patients affected by certain disorders and poor oral behaviors relating to surrounding facial muscle alignment. Myofunctional therapy can help many patients effectively address these concerns and improve their livelihood.
What Are the Benefits of Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional therapy can help individuals across the age spectrum improve the function and alignment of facial muscles. It can even have a positive effect on facial aesthetics. Myofunctional therapy involves a series of exercises to stimulate and essentially “retrain” tongue and face muscles to enhance their strength and functionality. This can be very beneficial for patients who are experiencing difficulty with numerous oral functions and behaviors. These conditions may be characterized as orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). OMDs have often been the cause of many common orthodontic issues and even more serious health concerns. The benefits of myofunctional therapy can allow for a pain-free, non-invasive, highly-effective treatment method. Myofunctional therapy can address issues such as mouth-breathing, poor swallowing, thumbsucking, and many other concerns. Ultimately, these exercises can work to improve eating, breathing, speaking, sleeping, and even smiling. In some cases, myofunctional therapy can also be advantageous for individuals affected by TMJ Disorder and sleep apnea.
Myofunctional Therapy vs. Orthodontics
Orthodontic treatments are often a good choice for people who want to address various concerns that can be fixed through tooth extractions and braces. These methods can straighten and realign teeth, as well as improve jaw and bite alignment. Traditionally, braces and other orthodontic treatments can be ideal solutions for these common problems once all of the patient’s permanent teeth have developed. However, orthodontic procedures typically only correct the symptoms of an underlying cause. This often results in the necessity of an orthodontic retainer for patients to achieve permanent results from their treatment. By contrast, myofunctional therapy is designed to address the root causes of the oral behaviors or conditions, even for children in early stages of development who do not yet have permanent teeth.
Who Needs Myofunctional Therapy?
Ideal candidates for myofunctional therapy are typically children and adults with OMDs and exhibit or struggle with the following behaviors and tasks:
- Messy eating
- Choking when eating
- Snoring during sleep
- Other sleep pattern issues
- Grinding teeth or bruxism
- Constant nasal congestion
- Jaw pain
- Frequent headaches
- Bottle feeding
- Thumb, finger, pacifier sucking
- Tongue thrusting
- Poor posture and leaning on chin
- Lips consistently left open
- Long Face Syndrome
- Mouth breathing
- Speech issues and lisps
- Tongue tie
- Reverse swallowing
- Cheek and lip biting
Do I Need Myofunctional Therapy?
If you believe you may benefit from myofunctional therapy, click on the link to take a quiz to determine if you would benefit from our treatment.
What Is the Myofunctional Therapy Process Like?
The process of myofunctional therapy is carried out by trained and experienced myofunctional therapists who have completed rigorous education programs focused on treating OMDs. Each person’s myofunctional therapy treatment plan will be uniquely tailored to their needs and which oral behaviors/conditions they would like to address. Using precise oral and facial exercises, the treatment will begin to retrain muscles in order to address the concerns and improve alignment and function. For some, braces or another type of oral appliance may be recommended once myofunctional therapy is completed.
How Long Does Myofunctional Therapy Take?
Myofunctional therapy is an ongoing treatment program with periodic “check-in” appointments to monitor progress. The program typically takes place over the course of six months. While six months is often the standard, the length of the process will vary depending on the needs of the patient and the severity of the concerns. The duration of the treatment is also dependent on the patient’s participation and commitment to the overall treatment protocol.
What Is a Functional Frenectomy?
For some patients, orofacial dysfunction conditions can be caused by certain muscular attachments in the mouth (known as the “frenum”) located beneath the tongue and between the lips and gums. These attachments are very important, and if they are not functioning properly they can have a significant impact on one’s quality of life. In fact, the frenum contains fibers that lead from the mouth to the spine and the chest. If these small strips of oral tissues are affected by excessive tension or restriction, they can lead to gum recession, a wide gap between the front teeth, chewing and speaking issues, and pain in the neck and shoulders.
A functional frenectomy may be recommended to alleviate the symptoms by releasing the frenum attachments. The procedure can be especially helpful when the frenum impedes patients from speaking and eating properly or when tension, pain, or discomfort caused by an improperly functioning frenum is being experienced. Functional frenectomy is an in-office procedure that offers a variety of benefits for ideal candidates. This treatment has helped many individuals improve breathing and biting, and even achieve physiological benefits such as enhanced posture and relaxed shoulders.
This treatment is typically designed to work in tandem with myofunctional therapy as its success is often dependent upon retraining muscles of the lips and tongue. Myofunctional exercises both before and after a functional frenectomy can ultimately increase the chances of results that last long into the future.
If you have questions about myofunctional therapy, functional frenectomy procedures, or other treatments available at Fulbright Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.