Improving oral health sometimes takes more than attention to brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups. In some cases, more serious treatments are necessary, like surgery, implants, or myofunctional therapy. But what is myofunctional therapy used for? First, you have to understand what OMDs are and how they can impact daily life for people who have them.
What Do Myofunctional Disorders Affect?
Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs) occur when the natural development of the bones and muscles in the face and mouth – the oropharynx – has been hindered in some way. The condition is very often found early in life and can cause problems with eating, swallowing, speaking, and breathing. As children develop, however, some symptoms simply go away on their own. While these signs don’t necessarily indicate an OMD, getting diagnosed as early as possible means that you or your child can start treatment earlier, too.
Some signs of an OMD include:
- Limited/hindered oral movement
- Speech-language issues
- Difficulty breathing through the nose (mouth-breathing)
- Overbite, underbite, or other noticeable dental issues
- Tongue pushed out past the teeth
- Messy eating
- Difficulty swallowing
- Trouble pronouncing certain sounds (like “s,” “sh,” and “j”)
- Sleep apnea
To treat an OMD, you should consider myofunctional therapy, which has been shown to help improve muscle function and address the symptoms listed above.
What is Myofunctional Therapy Used For?
People suffering from an OMD usually have weakened or underdeveloped muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. Myofunctional therapy aims to strengthen and retrain the oropharynx muscles through simple, repeated exercises. During therapy, the muscles in the face, mouth, and throat become more stable. As a result, the effects of disordered breathing and other OMD symptoms should decrease.
Kids who struggle with disordered breathing and adults with sleep apnea who are not comfortable sleeping in a CPAP machine have found myofunctional therapy especially helpful. In as little as six months, you can experience easier breathing and minimized discomfort when swallowing, drinking, and eating.
With years of experience in treating patients of all ages, Dr. Mullins understands the unique needs of therapy and dental care for OMD patients. Contact us to set up your appointment at My Family Dentistry today.