Myofunctional Therapy and the Tongues Role to your Health

myofunctional therapy and tongue rolesScotts Valley and Santa Cruz, CA

The position of your tongue when at rest is a significant indicator of your health, and can affect how you look, speak, eat, and even breathe. If you have an improper oral resting position of the tongue, it may be corrected with myofunctional therapy, a series of exercises that facilitate proper tongue positioning and function for life.

Our tongues play an important role in our overall health, and even our looks, believe it or not. Every time you swallow, the tongue should move in a wave-like pattern, gently pressing against the roof of the mouth as it pushing food down the throat.

Even when at rest, the tongue should be in correct positioning, which is gently pressed against the back sides of the upper front teeth, and resting along the roof of the mouth.

The tongue applies gentle pressure as it moves, and if it is moving in an incorrect manner, it can have a profound impact on a child’s development, their looks, even their airway.

If you or your child do not have proper tongue positioning, myofunctional therapy may help.

What is myofunctional therapy?

This form of treatment is essentially like physical therapy for your mouth. Using a customized exercise regimen, it helps correct “tongue thrust,” which often affects people with speech disorders or special needs, and sometimes people with misaligned teeth. Each myofunctional therapy plan is customized, according to the age and specific needs of the patient, and usually, lasts until the patient can swallow correctly.

Why use myofunctional therapy as treatment?

The idea behind the myofunctional therapy is to retrain the muscles of the tongue and mouth to function properly by using corrective exercises. Without retraining the muscles, the patient may develop negative adaptations that result in oral health problems, as well as development issues in children. These problems do not go away and can linger into adulthood, if not treated properly.

What does myofunctional therapy treat?

Myofunctional therapy is used to treat a wide array of orofacial myofunctional disorders such as tongue thrust, mouth breathing, follow up treatment to frenectomies, and more. Myofunctional therapy can have a profound impact on a child suffering from an orofacial myofunctional disorder, which is why early detection of any problems is necessary to protect a child’s growth and development.

It is important that children undergo routine dental checkups beginning as early as one year of age. This way, the dentist can recognize any problems that may be developing that relate to an OMD.

Symptoms of an OMD

People with orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD) may exhibit a wide array of symptoms. It is best to be evaluated by the dentist to determine whether one has OMD, and to develop a customized treatment plan for myofunctional therapy. One sure sign of OMD is the tongue protruding forward when swallowing, speaking, or at rest in the mouth.

OMD does not resolve on its own. If left untreated, OMD can lead to:

  • Misaligned teeth
  • Thumb-sucking
  • Teeth-grinding
  • Facial pain
  • Speech problems
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sleep apnea
  • Stomachaches

Regarding oral health, OMD can lead to malocclusion (uneven bite), an overbite or underbite (jetted teeth). Even more so, people with tongue thrust are more likely to develop tooth decay and gum disease since improper tongue movements hinder salivary production; a good reason why regular dental checkups are necessary. This way, the dentist can identify issues such as OMD in its earliest stages.

Who should prescribe myofunctional therapy?

Myofunctional therapy should be performed or recommended by a trained professional, such as the dental professionals at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry.

Contact us today at (831) 438-4411 to schedule a consultation. Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry serves patients located in the California communities of Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California.