Mother and Daughter

The Fundamental Guide to Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

WHAT IS OROFACIAL MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY?

Myofunctional therapy is a customized program of tongue and face related exercises that correct abnormal muscle movement patterns in the face, mouth, tongue and throat. These abnormal patterns are called Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) and can lead to improper breathing, chewing, speaking, swallowing, and cause weak jaw and facial appearance. Through Myofunctional therapy, improvements will occur by learning proper muscle function, strengthening weak muscles, and making behavior modifications by ensuring:

 

  • Proper breathing through your nose at all time (awake and asleep)

  • Correct position of the tongue while resting

  • Correct chewing and swallowing pattern

  • Proper lip seal when resting (mouth closed)

  • Strengthening of oral and facial muscles

  • Good head and neck posture

  • Eliminating harmful habits such as thumb sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrust.

 

 

Untreated OMD’s (orofacial myofunctional disorders) can result in a facial structure like the following:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Myofunctional therapy can lead to visible improvement in the facial structure in as little as 9-12 months:
 
THREE FACTS ABOUT MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY:
  1. It is collaborative: While myofunctional therapy is an effective treatment for lots of eating, breathing, and sleeping issues, it hardly ever is the only treatment used. A team of ENT, body workers (osteopath, massage therapist, chiropractor and physiotherapist) and dental professionals often will work together to accomplish your health goals. Often your myofunctional therapist will refer you to other professionals to achieve better posture and breathing goals.

  2. It greatly improves your appearance: Coordinating and strengthening proper face and mouth muscle movements will improve your facial appearance. Changes are gradual but effective, your cheeks become more youthful and firm, stronger lips, wider palate, stronger jawline, and it improves your posture. To compare the progress, before and after pictures will be taken.

  3. It requires dedication: Myofunctional therapy is like having a personal trainer  for your orofacial muscles (all the muscles bellow your eyes and above your shoulders). In order to strengthen and coordinated these muscles you must continue practicing with various exercises and activities provided by your myofunctional therapist on regular basis, until correct muscle patterns is established. it involves more than the time you have spent with your myofunctional therapist twice a month, It requires daily commitment.

 

WHO NEEDS MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY?

If you say yes to any of the questions bellow, you may have Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD)!

Do you have?
  • An incorrect placement of the tongue while resting (pushing tongue against or between the teeth or resting down on the floor of the mouth) causing  crowding or spacing of the teeth, narrow face, droopy eyes, smaller jaw development and narrow palate?

  • A tongue tie or lip tie?

  • Mouth breathing and open mouth rest posture (lips apart at rest)?

  • Difficulty keeping the mouth closed when chewing, messy or noisy eating and trouble with swallowing food?

  • Chronic headaches, teeth grinding or clenching and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

  • Speech problems and orthodontic relapse?

  • Harmful oral habits like thumb/finger sucking, nail and/or lip biting?

 

HOW DO WE START?

 

We start with a 1-hour comprehensive orthodontic and myofunctional assessment, update your panoramic x-ray, photos of your face and teeth, and a 3D scan of the teeth to evaluate your bite. Within 1 week, you will receive a custom diagnostic summary which reviews findings, and an outline of proposed treatment including the length of the treatment and the cost. Every session is 30 min twice a month which you can either attend in the office or do it virtually from the comfort of your home.

 

 

WHAT IS A TONGUE-TIE/BAD TONGUE POSTURE?

 

Tongue-tie, or a restricted frenum, are terms used when the frenum is short  and restricts the normal mobility of the tongue. The lingual frenum is the cord of tissue that stretches from under the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  Everyone has a lingual frenum but in some people it is tighter or shorter than it should be.  Tongue-tie is present at birth, but often goes undetected.  When the tongue is physically anchored to the floor of the mouth by a tongue tie, it can have a negative effect on oral development, oral function, speech, breathing and more.

SYMPTOMS OF TONGUE TIE

 

In infants  - Difficulty breastfeeding or bottle feeding, colic, reflux, painful nursing, difficulty introducing solids, ear infections.

In children- gagging or choking on foods, difficulty swallowing pills, delayed development of speech, messy or noisy eating, ear infections, teeth grinding, snoring.

In adults- chronic headaches or migraines, neck and shoulder tension, jaw pain, teeth grinding, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, narrow  jaws, orthodontic problems or relapse,  inability to speak clearly when speaking loud or soft, mumbled speech, poor dental health as evidenced by multiple restorations and root canals specially on the molars.

 

HOW CAN OROFACIAL MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY HELP?

 

When someone has been identified as having a tongue-tie, they may require a simple surgical procedure called a "frenectomy" to release the restricted frenum.  During an initial assessment in our practice, every client is screened for a tongue-tie and we can help determine if a frenectomy may be required.  Sometimes with myofunctional therapy alone we will be able to stretch the restricted frenum well enough to be able to give back the functionality of the tongue to a desired level that frenectomy might not be required. During your  program your therapist constantly assess the tongue and its range of motion. At any point of time if the client is not able to perform the exercises due to  tongue restriction , then referral will be advised.

If a frenectomy may be necessary, you/your child will be referred to an appropriate provider to perform the procedure. Post frenectomy exercises and stretches will be provided by your myofunctional therapist to ensure proper healing and avoid reattachment of the frenum.

 

 

 

WHY SHOULD YOU BE CONCERENED ABOUT OMDs?

 

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders interrupt normal muscle movement patterns, typically associated with lip, tongue, and/or jaw. Failure to address an OMD can result in (or contribute to):

  •  Long term mouth-breathing which may impact overall health

  • Improper chewing and swallowing patterns (including noisy chewing/swallowing)

  • Inadequate jaw development and/or facial growth, resulting in poor alignment of the teeth

  • Slowing the process of orthodontic treatment (braces) and increasing risk of relapse once treatment is complete

  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) including jaw pain, ringing in the ears and vertigo

  • tooth grinding/clenching

  • Speech sound alterations

  • Chronic facial/neck/back pain or strain

  • Various degrees of sleep disordered breathing

Untreated OMD’s (orofacial myofunctional disorders)
Myofunctional therapy can lead to visible improvement in the facial structure in as little as 9-12 months
ONGUE-TIE/BAD TONGUE POSTURE