If you or a member of your family suffers from an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD), then early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to preventing long-term effects on your oral health and overall health. Untreated OMDs are likely to result in developing bad habits to compensate for the behavior such as open mouth posture, mouth breathing, tongue thrust, and reverse swallow, among other problems.
Myofunctional therapy is an effective treatment for OMDs by training the muscles of the tongue and mouth to rest and function properly. Lake Forest Smiles is proud to offer myofunctional therapy to the areas of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire. Find out what myofunctional therapy is and how it could help you.
What is myofunctional therapy?
Also referred to clinically as orofacial myology, myofunctional therapy is a series of exercises, like physical therapy for your mouth. The purpose is to train the tongue, lips, mouth, and facial muscles to rest properly (closed mouth posture), facilitate nasal breathing, and to correctly function when swallowing.
Myofunctional therapy is simple, noninvasive, and can be practiced with relative ease. On average, a course of myofunctional therapy lasts six or more months. Myofunctional therapy provides astounding results for children, as correcting OMDs early in life may prevent the jaw and facial bones from under developing or growing in an awkward manner that creates an unfavorable profile (i.e., weak chin, or protruding upper teeth). However, adults also benefit from myofunctional therapy, even after years of poor tongue posture and function.
Is myofunctional therapy right for me?
Myofunctional therapy has proven successful in treating the following oral health issues, all of which can stem from the presence of an OMD:
- Problems chewing or chewing with an open mouth
- Chronic mouth breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Poor resting posture of the tongue
- Thumb sucking
- Tongue thrust
- Reverse swallow
- Speech impediments
Teeth clenching or grinding, aka bruxism
- Infants struggling to breastfeed
- Loud snoring
Myofunctional therapy also has been used to help manage sleep breathing disorders like obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when breathing becomes labored or interrupted during sleep, disrupting the sleep cycle and leading to a variety of increased health risks. Myofunctional therapy addresses the root issue—the airway—by re-training the mouth and tongue into their preferred resting position, achieving an ideal oral posture that encourages a wide, open airway, and nasal breathing. Myofunctional therapy may be used in conjunction with other natural therapies when treating sleep apnea.
How can children benefit from myofunctional therapy?
OMDs may develop from birth, such as a tongue-tie, or emerge over time as a result of poor oral posture. Unfortunately, the effects of OMDs often result in needing orthodontics or jaw surgery as the patient becomes older. You may wonder why orthodontic relapse occurs in many individuals. The problem lies not with tooth misalignment, but because of poor oral habits of the lips and tongue. If these habits are identified early on and treated properly, a child may avoid needing orthodontics later in life, or at the least, may undergo less extensive orthodontic treatment. Beginning myofunctional therapy at an early age, when necessary, encourages the jawbones and upper dental arch to grow to their full potential. Left untreated, OMDs could hinder jaw growth, and result in a severe underbite or overjet, weak chin, and crooked teeth.
Certified Myofunctional Therapist Serving Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire
If you are interested in learning more, please contact Lake Forest Smiles to schedule a consultation with our certified myofunctional therapist. At Lake Forest Smiles, we believe that a healthy mouth means a healthy life. To schedule a consultation, please call our office (847) 234-4800 or contact us online. Lake Forest Smiles has been providing elite dental care to the communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Lincolnshire for more than 30 years. We welcome you to our practice.