Myo exercises, forward head posture, tongue thrust, tongue-ties, sleep-related breathing disorders, airway development – they’re all words that are becoming more popular within the health, sleep, and breathing space. What do they have in common? They’re all related to myofunctional therapy and the proper function of the tongue, lips, mouth, and airway. Don’t worry if you’re wondering, ‘why haven’t I heard about myofunctional therapy before.’ You’ve come to the right place! Here’s everything you need to know about myofunctional therapy and why we think it hasn’t made it mainstream quite yet.
What Is Myofunctional Therapy?
Also affectionately referred to as myo therapy, myofunctional therapy combines simple and quick exercises to strengthen the tongue and facial muscles. The therapy can help correct improper muscle posture and functions, and ultimately improve overall health. Over time, myofunctional therapy can open airways, train the tongue to rest in its proper position, relieve headaches, realign misaligned jaws, and relieve and/or stop snoring.
What Does Myofunctional Therapy Help?
Retraining facial and tongue muscles through exercises and behavior modification techniques helps promote proper tongue position, chewing and swallowing, and improves the airway for better breathing. It can also help your face to return to a more natural state as the muscles become stronger. It has provided life-altering positive results for those who have been fortunate enough to have a practitioner that offers this as a part of their services.
Is it a New Therapy? Why Haven’t I Heard of Myofunctional Therapy?
Some of the earliest traces we have of the effect of mouth breathing on tongue resting posture goes back to the late 1800s. The ‘Father of Modern Medicine’ published an article called the Malocclusion of the Teeth. In it, he proposed that an improper resting posture hindered orthodontic treatment. He also stated that negative oral habits should be eliminated for orthodontic treatment to succeed.
Although dentists were aware of the problems with improper resting posture, myofunctional therapy itself had its start in the 1950s. At that time, an orthodontist used a series of exercises to help treat patients with a perverted swallow (tongue thrust).
Today we are seeing tremendous growth and further understanding of this therapy. However, only about 1% of eligible licensed professionals have taken the training and certification steps to be able to offer it in their practices. Our hope is that the trend will continue and myofunctional therapy will become widely accepted and used among patients who have incorrect oral postures.
Is Myofunctional Therapy Included In Healthcare Provider Training?
If asked about myofunctional therapy, many healthcare providers may not know it exists. Those medical professionals that have heard of it may think it’s just related to dentistry. Thus, they may consider it outside of their scope of practice. It is not taught in schools. It requires a specialty training. And, most are unfamiliar with its benefits and the overall effects of bad oral posture on one’s health. Unfortunately, when a patient suffers from common sleep-related breathing disorder symptoms, the possibility of improper tongue posture or mouth breathing is ignored.
Where Does Myofunctional Therapy Evolve From Here?
We are seeing an uptick in the practice of myofunctional therapy nation-wide, which is hopeful for the future. More professionals are doing research in the area, and are collaborating on the results. Over time, we will better understand the therapy’s treatments in the hopes of extending the benefits to patients. Many dental offices are starting to refer their patients out for myofunctional therapy. Some dental offices even have a myofunctional therapy on staff! Our office is lucky to have Courtney Krei, RDH, OMT on our team!
Schedule An Appointment With Bloom Center for Sleep and Airway Health
When the airway is open and functioning as it should, we can sleep better and live a healthier life overall. Do you think you or your child may have an airway problem that involves the breathing, the tongue, the tonsils, crowding of the teeth, or anything else? Schedule a consultation or virtual appointment with Dr. Liz Turner at the Bloom Center for Sleep & Airway Health. She will assess your unique situation.