Orofacial myofunctional therapy refers to therapy of the muscles in the mouth and face. There are numerous muscles in the face and tongue that work in harmony to carry out tasks such as talking, chewing, and swallowing. These muscles impact the development of jaw structure and can affect positioning of teeth. When in harmony, not only do these muscles result in an aesthetic structure being formed, but also are able to carry out the tasks to the best of their ability. Orofacial myofunctional therapy focuses on reducing negative oral habits to ensure proper growth, development, and pattern formation.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy involves a custom plan for each patient. The goals of therapy are to establish a correct swallow/chew pattern, for tongue to achieve proper rest posture, to establish nasal breathing, and for lips to be sealed at rest.
It is always best to seek correction of myofunctional disorders when a child is still young. This gives the opportunity to correct problems during development. If corrected when young, it reduces the chance of needing more complicated orthodontic procedures and possibly jaw surgeries later in life. The muscle training learned follows a child through the course of their life.
Prior to therapy, a complete assessment is required. At this appointment, the orofacial myologist gathers information related to the chief concern. As well, they determine factors that may contribute to the concern. They will evaluate breathing, swallowing, and study the current muscle patterns. They will also take measurements that are used as a baseline to analyze progress throughout the therapy program.
At times, there will be factors that need to be addressed as part of the therapy program. For example, a restricted lingual frenum (tongue-tie) is a contributing factor to poor tongue rest posture. This must first be corrected prior to further therapy. Your orofacial myologist will guide you as to what steps must be taken.
In order to see improvement, the patient must commit to following the assigned therapy plan. This typically requires daily exercises that, when done as instructed, help to establish correct muscle control of the face and mouth. Future appointments will be to re-evaluate progress and to give any new exercises for further improvement.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy can help eliminate negative oral habits, including: thumb sucking, nail biting, pacifier use, tongue thrust, clenching/grinding, improper swallow/chew patterns, and mouth breathing.
In proper rest posture, the tip of the tongue should rest along the roof of the mouth. In this position, the tongue activates a neurotransmitter called serotonin that helps us feel more relaxed. When thumb-sucking, the thumb is taking the place of the tongue in this spot. This results in the thumb activating the serotonin gland rather than the tongue.
With proper orofacial myology assessments and therapy, we can get the tongue to its’ proper rest posture to help eliminate the thumb-sucking habit. With negative oral habits, it is always advised to seek therapy sooner than later as these habits can have adverse effects on development of mouth and face structure. Without proper tongue rest posture, it often leads to mouth breathing and eventually an elongated facial profile due to the downward pull from the muscles.
Tongue thrust occurs when the tongue presses against the teeth when swallowing. Over time, this improper tongue rest position can apply pressure to the teeth causing adverse changes to the development of jaw and teeth including spacing of the front teeth.
Breathing through your nose is important for proper health. Incorrect breathing through the mouth can lead to negative sleep patterns and can affect development of mouth/face structure. From a dental standpoint, mouth breathing can contribute to increased gum inflammation and cavity risk due to a lack of saliva.
Sleep problems are often largely related to mouth breathing at night. Snoring and sleep apnea are indicators that mouth breathing is occurring. It can alter quality of sleep and can lead to concerns during the day, often marked by: reduced concentration, asthma, fatigue, bad breath, and dry mouth.
Due to COVID-19, office hours may differ from those posted. Please call the office at 780-705-5557 for current hours.
2 Saturdays a Month: 9am-2pm