Myofunctional Therapy is orofacial muscle therapy, which uses measurement and exercise to correct a deviated swallow, commonly called a “tongue thrust.” This is a problem often seen in orthodontic, dental, and speech patients.
Myofunctional Therapy was designed to change the habits of abnormal swallowing patterns, build oral facial muscle strength, and train the patient to swallow correctly. Correct function makes it possible for a patient to engage successfully in swallowing, eating, breathing, and speaking, along with developing healthy facial tone and appearance.
Swallowing and Myofunctional Concerns
The ability for us to swallow correctly depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, mouth and throat. The act of swallowing is one function that depends on the body’s vital balance. To swallow properly, muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks and throat must work together in harmony. When a person swallows normally, the tip of the tongue presses firmly against the roof of the mouth or hard palate, located slightly behind the front teeth. The tongue coordinates with all the other muscles involved in swallowing. The hard palate, meanwhile, absorbs the force created by the tongue.
Because a person swallows 500-1000 times a day, it’s easy to see how improper swallowing can cause a variety of problems. But it’s actually the resting position of the tongue that does the most damage.
Improper Oral or Tongue Posture
Proper oral posture means that at rest the tongue is touching the roof of the mouth, the teeth are touching or slightly apart, and the lips are together without strain. Improper oral posture puts you at risk of problems with facial and jaw development and dental issues, including crowded teeth, gummy smiles, recessive chins, grinding, clenching and other issues.
Myofunctional concerns such as improper tongue posture have been linked to facial bone growth and development issues, sleep breathing issues (such as UARS), snoring and sleep apnea, improper speech, and swallowing issues as well.