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Parents: What You Should Know About Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy is a treatment for OMD’s or Orofacial Myofunctional disorders regarding the functions and muscles of the mouth and face. This often indirectly or directly impacts the development and skeletal growth of the face, breastfeeding, swallowing, chewing, occlusion, speech, oral hygiene, joint movement, orthodontic treatment stability and facial aesthetics. The majority of OMD’s start with habitual oral or nasal breathing.

Numerous OMD’s are created by the orofacial functions and muscles as a pattern of disordered breathing. This can negatively impact treatments provided by dentists, orthodontists, speech pathologists, dental hygienists, and professionals within the orofacial field. Proper treatment will eliminate abnormalities in swallowing and improper placement of the tongue. This type of treatment is called myofunctional therapy.

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional therapy uses simple, painless exercises to ensure proper functioning of the facial muscles. This enables the other muscles to respond until the right coordination of face and tongue are achieved. These exercises must be performed every day until the muscle pattern has been corrected for the therapy to be successful. The best results are seen when the family and patient make a serious commitment during an extended period of time.

If the muscles of the throat, mouth and face are not properly aligned, the child will not be able to swallow correctly. Swallowing requires the body to be in balance including the nerves and muscles in the throat, cheeks and tongue. When the swallowing motion is normal, the tongue’s tip is firmly pressed against a hard palate or the roof of the mouth. The tongue is placed just behind the front teeth and the force is absorbed by the hard palate.

Myofunctional therapy is critical because the average individual swallows as many as 1000 times each day. Incorrect swallowing can lead to numerous issues and cause damage. One of the most common issues is tongue thrusting. This occurs when the tongue is pressed against the teeth. This can cause the teeth to break through the gums or to be pushed out of alignment. Another issue is a malocclusion caused by an improper alignment of the teeth. This can cause difficulties with swallowing, chewing, biting and digesting food.

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If OMD issues are not treated, it can result in speech difficulties such as difficulty forming sounds or a lisp. The muscles in the lips and tongue can be postured correctly with therapy. This can prevent abnormal speech from forming, TMJ dysfunction, stomach distress, headaches and airway obstructions. Myofunctional therapy also decreases symptoms for sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. Airway obstructions can be decreased when the muscles of the face, throat and tongue are working properly. The compassionate staff at Ashburn Children’s Dentistry are ready to talk to you more about this therapy. We are conveniently located in Ashburn, VA. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!

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