Orofacial myofunctional therapy is important for preventing gum disease and enhancing gum disease treatments, especially if you have a mouth breathing or tongue-thrusting habit! It can even help with headaches and jaw pain like TMJ pain. I used to wonder why some patients were prone to gum disease even though they took great care of their teeth and why some patients relapsed even after the best of care, and why some patients struggled with headaches and TMJ pain. And now I know that I was missing a big piece of the puzzle-orofacial myofunctional disorder. Gum disease around teeth and dental implants simply can not be treated effectively if there are mouth breathing or tongue thrusting habits present.
What is orofacial myofunctional therapy (OFMT)?
Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a series of isotonic and isometric exercises that strengthen and tone the tongue, lip, cheek and throat muscles. There are four goals of OFMT: develop a proper tongue posture with the tongue resting on the roof of the mouth; develop a good oral rest posture with the lips closed; promote nasal breathing; and develop a correct swallowing pattern. The most important benefit of OFMT is to develop nasal breathing throughout the day and at night while you are sleeping with the tongue bracing against the roof of the mouth.
The exercises of orofacial myofunctional therapy stablilize the jaw and TMJ and reduce the excessive pushing action the tongue exerts on the teeth during tongue thrust swallows. Remember that we swallow 500-1000 times per day so a lot of force is being placed on the teeth throughout the day if there is a tongue thrust habit. This is enough force to move teeth that have been corrected orthodontically and cause relapse. Remember that you should not need to wear a retainer to keep your teeth from shifting. A balanced and healthy posture and muscle function contributes to straight teeth.
If a child was not breast fed for at least 6 months or was born with a tongue-tie, it is likely that the muscles of breathing and swallowing were not properly developed. The child is likely to be a mouth breather and have a tongue thrust swallowing pattern that are two of the most important risk factors for gum disease and gum recession.
These children also do not develop the jaws to their fullest extent and develop narrow airways, small jaws and crooked teeth. As adults they are at high risk for sleep apnea, UARS and snoring. Their teeth also tend to relapse after orthodontic treatment.
How do you know if you have a small jaw?
If you do not have enough room for normal eruption of wisdom teeth or you have crooked teeth it is likely that your jaw is too small for your teeth which means you likely do not have enough tongue space. The lack of tongue space causes the tongue to fall back into the throat at night, causing sleep apnea or UARS or snoring.
It has been found that myofunctional therapy can help with sleep apnea and other airway breathing disorders. You can read the study here. Other benefits of therapy include a more beautiful face, better sleep and less orthodontic relapse. Myofunctional therapy might need to be done in conjunction with a tongue tie release and sleep appliance to get the best results.
Did You Just Say A More Beautiful Face??
Yes, that is correct! Children that undergo OMFT with expansion therapy develop more beautiful faces because the jaws can develop poperly and the teeth come out straight. But OMFT can help adults as well. By toning the lips and correcting the swallow the deep lines connecting the nose to the lips soften dramatically. Say goodbye to fillers! The face generally becomes softer as the muscles relax. And when done in conjunction with Buteyko breathing exercises, the dark circles under the eyes that are caused by mouth breathing and shallow breathing get lighter.
Dr. Sharona Dayan underwent orofacial myofunctional therapy herself with the world-renowned Joy Moeller and you can see how much softer her face looks in these before and after pictures. The picture on the left was taken 2 years before the picture on the right but she looks younger 2 years later! Dr. Dayan was so inspired by the health and beauty results of OMFT that she became Joy Moeller’s student and is now a practitioner herself!
Schedule A Video Consultation With Dr. Dayan Today
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms- gum disease, headaches, TMJ jaw pain, poor sleep or shifting of the teeth- schedule a Video Visit with Dr. Dayan to see if OMFT can help. You can book an appointment here. If you do not live in the Los Angeles area, all of the oral myofunctional therapy visits can be done remotely. We will mail you the exercise sheets and all of the tools.
You are also welcome to schedule a visit in our office by booking online here, calling us at 310-205-0900 or sending an email to email@example.com. We look forward to meeting you and we are sure you will be amazed by how much OMFT can benefit your oral and overall health.