What if there was a way that you could keep teeth straight, reshape your jaw, and resolve problems like TMJ and sleep apnea without braces and without surgery? That’s what myofunctional therapy is. It uses your body’s own muscles to optimize your oral structures. Not everyone is a candidate for this approach, but the right people can see a dramatic transformation. Although the approach may be more effective for children and teens, even adults can benefit from myofunctional therapy.
If you are interested in the potential of myofunctional therapy in River Edge, NJ, please call today. We can schedule an appointment with our TMJ dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.
What Can Myofunctional Therapy Do?
Myofunctional therapy begins with the facial muscles, but it can have far-reaching impacts on your oral and overall health. Myofunctional therapy can:
- Train muscles to swallow properly
- Teach the tongue, lips, and jaw how to stay in the proper position
- Encourage nasal breathing
- Encourage proper growth of the jaws, face, and airway
- Correct speech problems
- Improve open bite or underbite
- Stabilize orthodontic treatments
- Resolve TMJ symptoms
- Reduce or eliminate snoring or sleep apnea
Many of the above problems are related to what are called orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs). OMDs occur when your facial muscles aren’t functioning in a way that harmoniously encourages the development of your facial structure.
Retraining your muscles to perform their functions helps stop or reverse the negative consequences of an OMD.
The Principles of Myofunctional Therapy
Your bones, muscles, teeth, and other structures in your face and throat all develop together, each responding to the forces of the others. When the muscles of the face aren’t functioning properly because of an OMD, they alter the shape of the bones and other structures. By retraining these poorly functioning muscles, we can stop and even reverse damage caused by their improper function.
Some common OMDs include:
- Tongue thrusting
- Mouth breathing
- Improper rest position for tongue or jaw
- Poor swallowing function
The relative importance of each of these OMDs varies from individual to individual. By identifying the precise type of OMD you have, we can develop a training and exercise program that will correct your specific problems. The exercises are simple, such as the tongue click and smile or the pump. Typically, you will exercise for about five minutes, three times a day or so. That’s all it takes to retrain your muscles. Visible change in the face and jaw may take time to show, but functional improvements may be evident sooner.
Example of the tongue click and smile exercise
Example of the pump exercise
Improved breathing and rest can have some additional wide-ranging effects, including more controlled mood, improved thinking, and greater energy.
In essence, myofunctional therapy works similar to the way that braces work. Our bones respond to constant pressure by reshaping. Only instead of using metal brackets and wires, myofunctional therapy trains your muscles to apply the necessary force.
Is Myofunctional Therapy an Alternative to Braces?
Although myofunctional therapy can accomplish some of the same effects as braces and other orthodontic treatments, it can’t accomplish all the same effects. In many cases, it can work to reduce or eliminate the need for braces if started early enough. But it cannot accomplish the same results in the same short time frame. And there are some things braces can do that myofunctional therapy cannot. Some may benefit more from functional appliances that can provide different forces.
However, if you want to avoid braces for yourself or your child, it’s important to start treatment earlier. The sooner you begin, the more influence you can have on the development of your face and jaw.
Would you like to learn how myofunctional therapy can help you in River Edge, NJ? Please call today for an appointment at the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstruction Dentistry.