Active Myofunctional therapy is a program of evaluation and exercises used to treat incorrect patterns of muscle functions. The exercises help restore strength and coordination and retrains muscles of the face and tongue. The goal of myofunctional therapy is to optimize functions such as breathing, chewing, swallowing, speaking, occlusion, temporomandibular joint movement, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, sleep, facial esthetics, posture, and facial skeletal growth.
Just as physical therapy establishes normal muscle function in the body, Myofunctional therapy helps by training the soft tissues of the face, neck, and mouth to function optimally. Myofunctional therapy is also an important adjunct to numerous orofacial surgeries such as frenuloplasties( ie tongue tie release), tonsillectomy, and mandibular advancement . A big component of myofunctional therapy is the restoration of proper oral rest posture and elimination of mouth breathing habits.
Patients who have undergone treatment have regained enjoyment of eating, breathing, speaking and even sleeping more soundly. Myofunctional therapy is used for patients with TMJ/TMD disorder, sleep disorders, tongue thrusts, and even for improvements in breastfeeding and reduction of finger sucking habits. Research with patients with sleep apnea has demonstrated a decrease in the apnea AHI score by 50% in adults and 62% in children with myofunctional therapy alone ( Camacho et al ). It has also been shown that despite surgical or orthodontic treatment for sleep disordered breathing (SDB), absence of myofunctional therapy is more likely associated with a relapse of SDB. (Guilleminault et al). Additional to health benefits, cosmetic appearances including the teeth, jawline and face can improve with its use.
Most importantly the habits we train in our youth carryover to adult behavior and the healthy habits established in myofunctional therapy keep the teeth and jaw in alignment to allow for proper lifelong function. This many times eliminates or reduces the need for orthodontic intervention as when the face forms properly the teeth are much more likely to come in straight.
Passive myofunctional therapy is also a form of therapy that includes the use of oral appliances, such as Myobrace, to reinforce the goals of myofunctional therapy. Used together these therapies have been proven successful in early intervention orthodontic treatment, a more stable less invasive and healthy alternative to straight teeth and optimal airway development.
Myofunctional therapy is a well-known researched and used treatment in Brazil, Europe, and the USA, particularly Stanford University. At Rock Valley Dental we are very fortunate to have one of the most recognized myofunctional therapists in the midwest, Patricia Brinkman-Falter, at our office on a monthly basis. Patricia is a national speaker on myofunctional therapy amongst other topics and is very versed in airway, tongue tie, and overall oral development knowledge. Patricia works primarily in Lincoln, NE and you can learn more about her services at:www.nebraskamyo.com