Myofunctional therapy is used to correct thumb or finger sucking habits, incorrect tongue resting posture, tongue thrust swallowing patterns, open mouth rest posture and mouth breathing. It can help guide teeth into a more desirable relationship during a child’s early development (before the age of 12) and enhance appearance and posture.
Though Brazil has 29 doctoral programs in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, the United States lags far behind. However awareness is growing – partly because many, like me, have moved backwards to it from observing the astounding numbers of those with 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 26x 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 learning about 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, bringing muscles into equilibrium, and so on.
Each client is carefully evaluated during the first appointment, so their concerns and goals can be formulated and a treatment plan, designed. Motivation is also considered, since it is a crucial element of success.
Though each person has individual concerns, most concentrated therapy can be accomplished in 8-10 biweekly appointments, with appointments scheduled monthly or bimonthly after that for up to a year. It takes a year for most people to establish habits.
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.