What Is Oral Myofunctional Therapy?January 14, 2020
Oral myofunctional therapy is more than just a daily exercise with a goal to improve the musculature of the tongue, cheeks, jaw, and neck. Most of the time, we do not engage all the 57 muscles of the orofacial region, but we are impacting their ability to function on how we let them rest. It’s important to teach patients on how to identify a correct resting posture for their orofacial muscles. You can visit Dental Wellness’ clinic in Kellyville for more info, or you can finish reading this article.
One of the priorities or a myofunctional therapist is assuring that the patient has nasal patency. When the tongue and lips are in an incorrect rest posture, breathing becomes impaired and can result to an oral myofunctional disorder.
Sometimes people have genetic problems that they have no control from attaining proper oral rest posture. These individuals have learned to adjust by incorporating other muscles of the orofacial region in an attempt to perform the basic functions of breathing, swallowing and chewing. Unfortunately, the person is often unaware of the behavior until he or she suffers harm. The hazardous effect of orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMDs) is that one becomes cognizant of the symptoms before they can identify a cause.
Through the extended use of muscles other than the tongue to perform functions designated specifically for the tongue, the tongue’s muscle tone and mobility diminishes. As a means of correcting this deficiency, compensatory behaviors, executed by a union of muscles whose functions should otherwise be separate from the tongue’s, are developed.
This is the body’s attempt to adjust, or balance out the loss of, proper tongue function. These patients have learned to improperly integrate or associate their cheek, jaw, and neck muscles when chewing and swallowing. Myofunctional Therapy is used to teach individuals how to strengthen the tongue and prepare it for its natural functions by dissociating the tongue’s movements from other muscles.
A prevalent compensatory behavior involves activation of the jaw and neck muscles in swallowing. To cope with the diminished tongue mobility caused by a shortened frenum, one attempts to correct the defect by using the jaw or neck muscles to swallow.
As a person swallows anywhere several times a day, the muscles that were never intended to aid in the function of swallowing will gradually begin to grow in size. The excessive and prominent growth of muscles in the face, jaw, and neck region is not only dysfunctional but is for the most part unattractive.
From a functional point of view, the priority is to bring awareness to the patient of what muscles they are using to perform the functions of chewing and swallowing, and to teach patients how to separate cheek, jaw, and neck muscle use from tongue movements.
Ideally, the muscles of the orofacial region should work harmoniously with each other. Every muscle and organ we have is specifically designed for a purpose. Inter-muscle relationships must be clearly defined, with each muscle performing its discrete function. Myofunctional Therapy is not simply a regimen of exercises and stretches, but ultimately it is about being able to breathe, chew, and swallow efficiently.