Myofunctional Therapy

Tacoma Dentist

The position of your tongue, jaw, or lip can greatly affect the function and development of your oral structures. If any of these structures are out of place, you may not be able to chew, speak, or swallow properly. Orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) are the general term for this type of dysfunction. Fortunately, these issues can be corrected with a treatment called myofunctional therapy. Myofunctional therapy can improve both your smile and your oral health.

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Myofunctional therapy is essentially physical therapy for oral structures. The therapy targets facial, neck, and mouth soft tissues to bring your tongue and jaw into a more ideal position. The treatment targets those with orofacial myofunctional disorders. These types of disorders can affect people of all ages and treatment can be customized to fit unique needs.

What Causes Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders?

These types of disorders can be caused by a variety of things. The most common causes are enlarged tonsils, chronic thumb-sucking or bottle use, and structural abnormalities such as a tongue tie. Common signs and symptoms of the disorder are:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Facial pain
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Speech problems
  • Mouth breathing
  • Misaligned teeth

How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?

Myofunctional therapy is performed by a healthcare professional who has received continuing education or special training in orofacial disorders. You will receive a customized program aimed at retraining your facial muscles to improve oral function. The program may include things such as eliminating thumb sucking, focusing on nasal breathing, or changing the resting position of your lips. The treatment will strengthen your muscles and improve your coordination. In addition to increased chewing, breathing, and speech function, you may also benefit from an improved facial profile or smile.