Myofunctional therapy, also known as orofacial myofunctional therapy, is a type of treatment that is used to strengthen the muscles throughout the mouth, tongue, and upper throat. In some cases, muscle weakness in these areas can lead to a resting tongue placement that causes negative effects on a patient’s oral health and beyond. Myofunctional therapy involves practicing a number of different exercises designed to improve muscle function and ultimately correct the resting tongue placement.
Weak mouth and tongue muscles can cause a variety of different problems including chronic headaches and sleep apnea, and the condition has several potential consequences for your oral health as well. It can cause serious misalignment of the teeth and lead to overbite, underbite, tooth decay, and gum disease. When normal tongue activity is inhibited, it prevents the saliva from doing its job of cleansing the mouth and gums and can lead to serious problems in the future.
Proper practice of myofunctional therapy exercises can correct problems such as sleep apnea, headaches, thumb sucking, TMJ pain, and more. It is also used to correct overbites, underbites, and gaps between the teeth, especially in children. Myofunctional therapy can also help alleviate digestive issues caused by improper swallowing. The ultimate aim of myofunctional therapy is for the patient to train their muscles so that the tongue remains properly rested on the palate with the lips closed, and proper nasal breathing occurring when the tongue is not in use.
Your dentist may recommend myofunctional therapy exercises as a way to combat a variety of oral issues. For issues such as sleep apnea, myofunctional therapy has shown to be effective in alleviating the condition in patients of all ages. For teeth placement issues such as overbite and underbite, myofunctional therapy is more often prescribed to children over the age of six whose teeth have not yet settled into their adult state.
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