What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional Therapy, also known as Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, is a specialized intervention designed to address Oral Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs). Therapy involves a regimen of therapeutic oral and facial muscle exercises that are suited to the individual patient’s needs. The exercises are designed to develop correct chewing and swallowing patterns, along with improving the resting postures of the tongue and lips. Oral Myofunctional Disorders may affect breastfeeding, growth of the facial skeleton, swallowing, chewing, jaw and dental occlusion, oral hygiene, stability of orthodontic treatment, temporomandibular joint movement, and more.
Orofacial myofunctional disorders include one or a combination of the following:
- inappropriate thrusting, habitual anterior placement of the tongue in speaking and/or swallowing
- habits of sucking the thumb, finger(s), lip(s), and/or tongue
- forward, interdental resting posture and positioning of the tongue problem
- habitual breathing through the mouth
- clenching and/or grinding of teeth
- an inappropriate mouth-open, lips-open at rest
- forward/anterior resting position of the tongue against the maxillary or mandibular incisors
Associated Health Problems of OMDs
Hidden breathing difficulties related to OMDs may contribute to side effects such as anxiety, asthma, allergies, nasal congestion, snoring, and may contribute to sleep apnea. Addressing these difficulties involves a team approach among the Speech-Language Pathologists, Dentists, Orthodontists, Ear, Nose, & Throat Specialists, Allergists, and Nutritionists.
How Effective is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy?
Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy has been successfully employed in numerous countries, for more than 30 years. Multiple studies have demonstrated its effectiveness (Hahn &Hahn, 1992; Homem, Vieira-Andrade, et al. ,2014), reporting that treatment for orofacial myofunctional disorders can be largely effective in correcting swallowing and resting posture and that orofacial myofunctional treatment, combined with orthodontic treatment, can aid correction of dentofacial deformities. The research further indicates that these corrections are retained years after completing therapy. Cooperation and compliance from the patient and his/her family are critical in facilitating progress in any type of therapeutic interventions.
You may find additional information at the Orofacial Myology website.
To learn more about our services and/or schedule appointment, please visit the website for the USC Speech and Hearing Research Center.