Beyond Just Breathing – The Life-Changing Benefits of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Dr Chelsea StanglInsight from our Team

Image

When most people hear the phrase "tongue therapy," strange mental images may come to mind. More recently, the term Mouth Yoga has been seen on many social media platforms. However, orofacial myofunctional therapy is an extremely important and beneficial treatment for correcting improper oral patterns that interfere with correct oral development and function that has been around for decades.  

At its core, myofunctional therapy helps train and retrain the orofacial muscles - those of the lips, tongue, jaw, and face - to adopt more optimal resting postures and movement patterns. This can address a wide range of issues from mouth breathing to tongue thrusting, speech problems, teeth grinding, sleep disordered breathing, and more.

Image

The Importance of proper tongue posture is one of the three foundations and key focuses of orofacial myofunctional therapy. Achieving proper tongue posture and mobilization is extremely important when learning how to breath through the nose and learning proper swallowing techniques. According to the Academy of Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (AOMT), the tongue is considered the "pilot" of the orofacial musculature system.

When the tongue is not resting in the proper elevated position against the palate improper oral development and function occurs - it can set off a chain reaction which leads to mouth breathing, sleep issues, snoring, speech impairments, orthodontic relapse after treatment, along with many other possible dysfunctions. It is important to assess the structures that could be causing poor tongue posture, such as lingual (tongue) restriction or deviation of the nose which could prevent nasal breathing.

Image

Mandy Thompson, an orofacial myofunctional therapist at Crested Butte Dental, has seen first-hand how correcting tongue posture improves sleep quality and overall health. "Mouth breathing disrupts natural sleep patterns and can contribute to issues like sleep apnea," she explains. "Establishing proper tongue positioning and nasal breathing makes a huge difference. I've been providing orofacial myofunctional therapy for years with excellent, proven results" 

The Myofunctional Therapy Process: Mandy's proven myofunctional therapy program typically runs between 6-9 months, depending on the individual's age, compliance with exercises, and the severity of their specific muscle patterns. Treatment incorporates:

  • Initial assessment and goal-setting
  • Education on optimal oral posture (tongue fully laying on palate, proper swallow and chewing techniques, and nasal breathing both day and night) 
  • Specific exercises to retrain the lips, tongue, and facial muscles
  • Habit elimination strategies for things like thumb sucking, nail biting, blanket sucking, tongue thrusting, etc.
  • Potentially a tongue restriction release procedure to maximize mobility of the tongue
Image

The best part is, Mandy is able to work with local patients in-person as well as those located anywhere through video appointments. "Orofacial myofunctional therapy can be absolutely life-changing for breathing, sleep, chewing, speech, jaw and muscle tension, and more."

If you or a loved one struggles with any orofacial muscle pattern issues, don't hesitate to learn more about this amazing therapy. Positive, lasting changes are possible at any age when you retrain and optimize the muscular system.

Schedule a consultation with Mandy Thompson at Crested Butte Dental to get started today!