Does my child need Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
If any of these issues concern you, your child may benefit from Myofunctional Therapy:
- Does your child have difficulty pronouncing specific sounds despite having speech therapy for years?
- Can you see your child's tongue push forward while swallowing? Is your child a messy eater?
- Do you see your child's tongue stick out between the front teeth at rest? Are their lips apart and jaw hinged open while watching T.V. or reading a book?
- Does your child's tongue seemed 'tied' to the floor of the mouth?
- Does your child breathe through their mouth?
- Does your child snore at night? Sound congested?
- Does your child wet the bed?
- Does your child have a forward head posture with rounded shoulders (slouches)?
- Is your child always putting things in their mouth such as fingers, pens, clothing etc.?
Why be concerned about opened-mouth posture?
Many people simply disregard mouth breathing as a habit and do not think much about it. Unfortunately, most people do not know that an opened-mouth posture can have serious, permanent consequences. It can affect the dental development and orofacial growth of children, which can negatively impact dental health and occlusion.
In children, research has shown that an opened-mouth posture can result in an increased length of the face known as “Long Face Syndrome”, droopy eyes with dark circles, flattened nasal area, short upper lip, a droopy lower lip and a retruded chin. As the jaw hinges open, the tongue, which usually rests in the roof of the mouth, drops to the floor of the mouth and protrudes forward to allow better breathing. This incorrect tongue positioning causes light continuous pressure on selected teeth, contributing to dental misalignment such as an open bite (opening between the upper and lower teeth when the teeth are closed).
In teenagers or adults, an opened-mouth posture can cause an orthodontic relapse (teeth moving back after braces are removed). Research demonstrates that the lips are the teeth’s natural retainer. Therefore, it is very likely that someone with incorrect lip and mouth posture will see teeth shifting after the removal of orthodontic appliances if a lips–together posture is not taught and habituated.
An opened-mouth posture also affects the head and neck posture. Those with an opened-mouth posture tend to hold their head in a forward position, but tilted posteriorly, in order to increase airway space. Many adults complain of head and neck pain which is caused by this postural change.
The nasal passages provide a natural filtering system for airborne polluted particles. The hair and mucous in the nose trap these particles to prevent them from entering the lungs. Mouth breathing by-passes this valuable filtering system. Therefore, mouth breathers often have increased incidence of allergies.
When should I seek treatment?
The earlier the better. At any age, it is important to address OMDs (Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders). OMDs will cause more damage to the orofacial complex the longer they are left unaddressed.
Is Myofunctional Therapy only for children?
Myofunctional Therapy can be beneficial at any age! Early treatment while in the growth stages results in the best possible outcome, however we have worked with all ages and have seen success with Myofunctional Therapy when clients are motivated and compliant with exercises. Anyone who is having a tongue-tie released, should have therapy well in advance of the procedure.
How successful is Myofunctional Therapy?
The prognosis for success in therapy depends greatly on motivation and in children, on parental support and commitment. Reversing OMDs can be easier said than done. They require much work to remediate. In motivated individuals, the success rate for habituation is excellent and noticeable improvement is generally noted within a few weeks.
Should Myofunctional Therapy occur before or after orthodontic treatment?
Each case is patient specific and will be evaluated thoroughly before we make recommendations about starting Myofunctional Therapy before or after orthodontic treatment. Our goal is to work with your orthodontist and their treatment plan to provide you the best possible outcome. In some cases it is beneficial to start Myofunctional Therapy before orthodontic treatment and in other cases we are unable to start treatment until orthodontic treatment has been completed.
How successful is therapy?
Myofunctional Therapy is hard work for the patient. It requires dedication and perseverance. The success of Myofunctional Therapy is largely dependent on the motivation and the discipline of the patient. Without enough exercising of the muscles, we cannot expect to see improvement in muscle tone and strength. This makes it difficult to train the lips and tongue how to rest and function correctly. We have different techniques to help our patients stay motivated throughout therapy!