Myofunctional Therapy Explained By Your Pediatric Dentist In London

Retrain Your Child’s Smile With Myofunctional Therapy

  • easier breathing
  • reduce headaches
  • a better night’s sleep
  • minimize the risk of gum disease
  • better digestion.

If your child is having difficulty breastfeeding, chewing, swallowing, or speaking, they may need to undergo myofunctional therapy – available at Ari Pediatric Dentistry.

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Orofacial myofunctional therapy retrains the orofacial muscles and helps correct a range of functional disorders, including:

  • mouth breathing
  • improper chewing
  • unusual swallowing
  • poor tongue rest position.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMD) often go unrecognized in children and adults and can affect breathing, swallow patterns, muscle tension, and the ability to chew foods properly. OMDs are a symptom of functional and structural changes that lead to abnormal growth and development of the facial structures. TMJ issues, grinding, clenching, nail-biting, sleep breathing disorders, tooth pain, headaches, and neck pain are all possible symptoms of a myofunctional disorder or tongue tie.
At Ari Pediatric Dentistry, our goal is to educate and create awareness of orofacial myofunctional therapy and help in the individual development and reeducation of orofacial muscles to correct swallow patterns and improve airways in children.

Proper Rest & Swallow

At proper rest, the tongue should naturally rest on the mouth’s roof inside the upper teeth. The lips should be sealed. This proper rest position helps in the development of the upper palate and facial bones.

A good swallow pattern allows the tongue to create a proper seal while swallowing. The front of the tongue should be resting on the palate while the back of the tongue carries the food to the back of the mouth.

Re-educating the muscles

The main goals of therapy are to achieve a proper swallow pattern and proper rest position of the orofacial muscles.  This includes promoting a lip seal, preventing parafunctional habits, promoting correct chewing patterns, and developing airway and promoting nasal breathing. This involves simple exercises done two to three times per day.

Habituation

This stage of therapy is ongoing for several weeks but can be done independently. There will be periodic check-ins with the myofunctional therapist to change the exercises according to the needs of the individual.

Benefits of therapy

Orofacial myofunctional therapy may improve some of the following:

  • swallow patterns
  • muscle tension in head and neck
  • headache relief
  • airway and breathing
  • digestion
  • dental arch development-correct chewing patterns
  • lower risk of periodontal disease
  • improve facial tissue tone
  • facial development
  • quality of sleep
  • speech (if speech is the primary concern, a referral will be made to a speech and language pathologist).

Myofunctional therapy needs commitment from clients and parents to achieve the maximum benefits of proper swallow patterns and orofacial rest positions.

Myofunctional therapy assessment & sessions

This appointment takes about 60-90 minutes. Oral function, occlusion, and extensive medical and psycho/social history will be collected. Diagnostic photos will be taken and a detailed treatment plan created. An orofacial myofunctional therapist will do this, but a dentist will complete the tongue assessment and diagnosis.

These appointments are 30-45 minutes and involve assessing 0rofacial function, motivational interviewing, education, and implementation of Myofunctional therapy exercises where indicated. The exercises are simple and should take no longer than 10 minutes, two to three times per day. The sessions can be in person or virtually. These myofunctional therapy appointments are scheduled according to your child’s needs. 

Often the therapy is done in association with a tongue tie and/or lip tie release.  Before this procedure, some exercises may be required to strengthen the head, neck, and tongue muscles to allow better function post-operatively.

After the tongue is released, there will be additional myofunctional therapy sessions. The goals of therapy are different for each person. They include:

  • palatal tongue placement during swallowing, speech & at rest
  • correct swallowing
  • good nasal breathing both day and night

The number of myofunctional therapy sessions varies from person to person. Therapy is complete once good oral function has become habitual.

Have any questions about myofunctional therapy? Contact our team at your London pediatric dentist today!