Myofunctional therapy helps correct thumb or finger sucking habits, incorrect tongue resting posture, tongue thrust swallowing patterns, open mouth rest posture and mouth breathing. It helps guide teeth into a more desirable relationship during a child’s early development (before the age of 12) and enhances appearance and posture.
Though Brazil has 29 doctoral programs in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, the United States lags far behind. But awareness is growing – partly because many dental practitioners have moved into it after observing the astounding numbers of clients with likely sleep apnea, at least 90% of whom have not been diagnosed. Since stroke risk, inflammatory changes to blood and blood vessel walls, adrenal fatigue, and other downstream consequences cause a 26-fold increased risk of death than someone without sleep apnea, those “in the know” and who are responsible for treating it are alarmed! Seeking answers, they are studying the causes.
In the United States, registered dental hygienists, dentists, and speech therapists can train to become myofunctional therapists. Each seems to have a different “twist” to their therapy and their reasons for it. The introduction to orofacial myofunctional therapy here best explains my understanding, interests and private practice focus in developing a proper airway, “freeway space” for the tongue, helping establish proper breathing habits, tongue position, a correct swallow, re-patterning oral and facial muscles, and so on.
I carefully evaluate each client during the first appointment, so I can address their concerns, goals, and formulate a treatment plan. I also evaluate motivation, since it is a crucial element of success.
Though each person has individual concerns, most concentrated therapy can be accomplished in 9-10 biweekly appointments, with appointments scheduled monthly or bimonthly after that for up to a year. Most clients can establish these new neuromuscular habits within a year.
Children as young as 4 can benefit, but 7-8 is an ideal age to begin and be successful. Teens and adults may have completed their facial development but can still benefit in numerous ways. For instance, faces can continue to elongate over time, decreasing space for the tongue and airway, leading to apnea, jaw joint (TM) difficulties and other problems.