I had my doubts about TMJ/Myofacial dentistry with a bad experience in Toronto with such dentists many years ago.
But Dr Silver and her team are fantastic, professional, knowledgeable, caring and want to help you not be in pain like I have for decades. Great TMJ dentist!
What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Did you know that the position of the tongue and the activity of the orofacial muscles has a significant impact on a child’s facial development? Alterations in the oral cavity’s development can bring many functional and aesthetic complications, known as Orofacial Muscular Disorders (OMD). Children suffering from any of these disorders can face difficulties breathing, biting, swallowing, and speaking.
The good news is that these problems can be intercepted and corrected at an early age with Myofunctional Therapy. With simple exercises, this therapy strengthens the tongue and orofacial muscles and teaches each muscle to engage in the correct position. These exercises should be done daily for a certain period of time and are always guided and instructed by a myofunctional therapist.
What are the benefits of Myofunctional Therapy?
After myofunctional therapy, patients enjoy better biting, chewing, speaking, and swallowing. It also helps correct breathing patterns, allowing a more restful sleep.
SLEEP APNEA RELIEF
Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which the tongue adopts an incorrect position while you sleep, producing a blockage of the upper airway during nighttime, and disturbing sleep and eventually can affect normal growth and development. Myofunctional therapy helps strengthen the tongue’s muscles, preventing the collapse of the airway during sleep.
Young patients can achieve dramatic results in little time, especially when this therapy is combined with other orthodontic treatments.
Most patients need to perform simple exercises for a few minutes a day. No uncomfortable oral appliances!
This therapy trains the oral cavity muscles to rest in the right position, with the lips and teeth closed and the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth. This directly affects the development of the jaws and gives patients a more harmonic appearance.
How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?
This therapy should be indicated and performed by a healthcare professional who has completed extensive training in OMDs and OMD treatment. Myofunctional therapists play a crucial role in its early detection. Although some parents can detect signs and symptoms of these disorders, in most cases, they are only recognized in the dental chair while the professional is doing a routine check-up.
The first step in this therapy is to reach an accurate diagnosis. Once the myofunctional therapist has established what’s causing the disorder, he or she creates an individualized program of exercises and tasks to re-educate the tongue and orofacial muscles. Some treatment goals might include normalizing the resting posture for lips and tongue, establishing correct breathing patterns, or eliminating harmful habits like thumb-sucking.
The patient will be asked to do some exercises at home to increase awareness of the tongue and muscles. This therapy is based on the fact that if patients consciously and routinely repeat certain movements, they can modify an old habit and incorporate this new correct position or movement into their daily routine. As muscular activity dictates the growth of the orofacial structures, if the patient is treated from an early age, the oral cavity is more likely to have a healthy development.
Eventually, myofunctional therapy improves or eliminates OMDs signs and symptoms. Patients can breathe more efficiently, sleep more soundly, eat more comfortably, and notice cosmetic changes in their smiles.
Does my child need Myofunctional Therapy?
An early diagnosis is crucial for the success of this therapy. We advise parents to pay attention to their children’s postures and habits to recognize signs of unusual orofacial development when they are still growing. Your children may benefit from this therapy If any of these issues sound familiar to you:
- They have difficulty in pronouncing certain sounds
- They try to put their tongue between their front teeth when they swallow
- Their lips never touch, especially when children are relaxed (watching tv or playing video games)
- They breathe through their mouth and snore at night
- Their voice seems to be congested all the time
- Their tongue cannot move freely inside their mouths
- They are constantly chewing things (pen lids, pencils or plastic objects) or putting them in their mouths
- They have a forward head posture and round shoulders
It is recommended to start myofunctional therapy at the age of 4. However, this therapy is known for being effective in patients of all ages, so we advise parents that recognize any of the issues mentioned before to seek treatment as soon as they notice them. It is never too early or too late.
Tongue thrusting is a consequence of the incorrect position of the tongue. Patients have the habit of pushing the tongue forward between upper and lower teeth when they swallow, which can affect the position of the front teeth and lead to an open bite.
Myofunctional therapy is also appropriate for adults. Results aren’t as fast or dramatic, but it certainly helps on many occasions, as OMDs consequences tend to get more severe over time.
Breathing through the mouth has consequences both in children and adults. It can alter the normal development of facial and oral structures in children, leading to problems like crowded teeth, facial deformities, or poor growth. In addition, chronic mouth breathing can affect sleep and trigger oral conditions such as gum disease and halitosis (bad breath) in adults.
Kelsie is an experienced dental hygienist that has also undergone rigorous training to recognize signs and symptoms of OMDs while completing regular oral exams. She can evaluate your children’s smiles and provide treatment protocols to address most problems derived from these disorders. Myofunctional therapy can greatly improve your children’s quality of life so if you feel that any member of your family might benefit from this therapy, schedule a consultation with Kelsie – she will be happy to evaluate your case and answer all your questions!