OroFacial Myofunctional Therapy
Park Ridge, IL Dentist
Those who would benefit from this therapy are people with:
- Facial pain
- Speech problems
- Mouth breathing
- Sleep apnea
- Stomach aches – hiccups, belching, acid reflux from improper chewing and swallowing
- Misaligned teeth as in open bite, overbite, overjet and underbite.
- History of thumb or finger sucking and nail biting
Often a child or adult may exhibit one or more of these symptoms and will need to seek care to correct the swallowing disorder before the speech deficit or tooth problems can be corrected.
Its Effect on Oral Health
Keep in mind improper tongue placement when swallowing can contribute to a bad bite – an overbite, over-jet and under-bite. For this reason, people with an abnormal tongue position are also prone to tooth decay and gum disease due to a decrease in the self-cleansing components of normal tongue activity and saliva flow. This is why regular dental care is crucial to recognizing and preventing dental problems – especially for younger patients. Early intervention can assist in proper development of the mouth and face often reducing the length of orthodontic treatment or eliminating the need for treatment. Mouth breathing – contributes to gum disease and cavities.
Its Effect on Overall Health
Myofunctional therapy may help in the treatment of sleep apnea for both children and adults, too. In fact, recent studies reported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have shown this therapy helps to decrease sleep apnea by roughly 50 and 60 percent in adults and kids, respectively. In adults, data showed increases in oxygen saturation with decreases in sleeplessness and snoring.
- Mouth-breathing instead of nasal breathing can increase seasonal sickness as our nose filters and humidifies the air we breathe.
- Over-breathing can cause asthma like symptoms, rhinitis and sinusitis.
- Improper chewing and swallowing – contributes to indigestion, acid reflux, hiccups and chronic belching.
How It’s Done
Myofunctional therapy is performed by a professional, often a speech pathologist or dental hygienist, who has undergone advanced training in this specialty. Again, the practice is based on individual needs but will most always include increasing awareness of the muscles in the mouth and face while gradually training the tongue into its proper position. This includes visual recognition of the face and mouth and corrective exercises that cater to these cosmetic needs. How can you help? Focus on an ideal swallowing pattern that uses the facial muscles and the tongue, which eventually lead to an increase in muscle strength and coordination. The results should be proper tooth positioning, ideal pronunciations and efficient digestion. The muscles of the face and mouth are designed to work together in a collaborative effort. By recognizing an orofacial myofunctional disorder early, you can help a child or adult overcome the hurdles that prevent them from using their mouths properly.
To schedule an appointment for a courtesy consultation or comprehensive exam by our certified orofacial myofunctional therapist, Gerri Huffman RDH, COM, contact us today.