What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional Therapy is an exercise-based therapy for the tongue, mouth, and facial muscles. The exercises are designed to encourage proper breathing, chewing, and swallowing. By correctly balancing the mouth and facial muscles, patients get the best night of sleep possible while maintaining a beautiful smile and healthy lifestyle. Myofunctional Therapy has been scientifically proven to reduce sleep apnea by 50%.
When a patient undergoes Myofunctional Therapy, they learn how to:
- Use proper tongue posture
- Promote nasal breathing
- Correct swallow patterns
What problems or conditions does Myofunctional Therapy treat?
Myofunctional Therapy is for anyone that has issues with:
- Sleep apnea and poor-quality sleep
- Grinding and clenching of teeth
- Dysfunctional swallowing patterns
- Acid reflux
- Facial pain
- Neck tension
- Prevention of orthodontic relapse
Myofunctional Therapy is particularly great for sleep apnea patients who are intolerant of a CPAP machine.
Myofunctional Therapy is also great for children because we can prevent teeth from crowding before it becomes too big of a problem.
By prepping and learning how the tongue should be placed, Myofunctional Therapy prevents the dental arches from collapsing, maintaining a beautiful broad smile that can also help your child breathe and sleep better.
Am I a good candidate for Myofunctional Therapy?
At Albany Smiles, our hygiene team screens for myofunctional disorders such as:
- Oral facial muscle imbalance
- Poor tone of the tongue, lips, and cheeks
- Overactive lips and cheeks
- Narrow dental arches
- Inability to breathe through the nose
- Mouth breathing
We also screen for tongue-tie, which can mimic airway issues and prevent your tongue from resting in the right spot while sleeping.
If we find you’re a candidate for Myofunctional Therapy , typically, we start with a home sleep test to rule out that there is any sleep apnea. Myofunctional Therapy can improve sleep for those with sleep apnea, but it’s not a requirement to undergo treatment.
After we identify whether there is some sort of apnea, we do a myofunctional assessment where we evaluate the airway both radiographically and clinically. We look at how your muscles work together, your range of motion inside and outside of the mouth, as well as your posture.
What does a typical Myofunctional Therapy program look like?
Myofunctional Therapy is performed in 30-minute sessions in-person or over Zoom. Katie will walk you through exercises that help with breathing, posture, and the isolation of certain muscle groups of the mouth. By doing this, we strengthen and tone your muscles and build new neural pathways so that your brain learns how to use these muscles properly.
How long is a typical Myofunctional Therapy program?
A typical therapy program is 12 sessions – some patients need more, and some need less. The 12 sessions can span from 6 months to a year. Myofunctional Therapy can also be utilized during orthodontic treatment. Every program is customized to each patient.
What results can I expect from participating in a Myofunctional Therapy program?
Usually, within the first few sessions, patients become more aware of when they are breathing through their mouth or nose. Nasal breathing is vital to the overall quality of life as it allows you to sleep better and feel rested in the morning. It also helps eliminate clenching and grinding, which means that facial pain, tension, migraines, and even wear on your teeth can subside quickly. Most patients report less facial tension, neck pain, and headaches. And much to their partner’s relief, snoring is no longer an issue!
How does Myofunctional Therapy support Orthodontic Treatment?
Myofunctional Therapy is excellent when combined with orthodontic treatment because it helps maintain the end orthodontic result. Balancing out the muscles of the face and mouth prevents the muscles from moving the teeth around again. Once you learn the proper posture for everything, it helps to keep your smile perfect.
With Myofunctional Therapy , one of the key factors is that you must be able to breathe through the nose and have enough space for the tongue to rest correctly in the roof of the mouth. That’s where Dr. Frank comes in! Using CandidPro aligners and the Vivos expansion system, he can create more space in the roof of the mouth and lower jaws to house the tongue and create adequate nasal space to breathe correctly.
For improved results, Dr. Frank may suggest combining Myofunctional Therapy with Vivos.