What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional therapy is a retraining effort to correct tongue thrusting and an improper swallow. It is often prescribed to individuals who have an abnormal swallow usually caused by tongue placement resulting in malocclusion of the teeth. Tongue thrusting is the abnormal habit of placing the tongue between the teeth before and during the act of swallowing. During a normal swallow, the tongue should be placed on the roof of the mouth and not between the teeth. Tongue thrusting, often combined with a resting position also between the teeth, can result in an open bite by inhibiting normal eruption of teeth and pushing the teeth and facial bones forward. Myofunctional therapy is a retraining effort that strives to replace this detrimental behavior pattern of the tongue with proper orofacial habits so that normal growth and development of the teeth may take place or progress in a proper environment.
Treatment by Myofunctional Therapy
Myofunctional therapy is combination of treatments performed by both a trained speech therapists and Dr. Edderai that accompanies any orthodontic treatment. It can often be observed that a patient, who suffers from a certain tooth or jaw malocclusion, also exhibits an abnormal swallowing pattern, incorrect formation of phonemes, tongue pressing or habitual opening of the mouth. The causes of many tooth and jaw malocclusions are myofunctional, that is, they are directly attributable to a disorder of the muscle apparatus of the mouth and facial area. For example, keeping the mouth open, as a result of breathing through the mouth, contributes to the underdevelopment of the lip muscles. One indication that a patient primarily breathes through the mouth is dry and cracked lips. The lips of people who breathe through the mouth cannot withstand the pressure of the tongue, and the teeth are therefore being pushed forward. As a consequence the tongue no longer lies against the front part of the palate, and the cheek muscles can hinder the development of the entire upper jaw. It would not make much sense to correct malocclusions, which were caused by myofunctional disturbances, without an accompanying speech therapy, because it would lead to so-called “Rezidivs”. After a short time, the patients would have the same malocclusion as in the beginning of the therapy.
This field of orthodontics makes my profession so interesting, because the patient is treated as a whole, with all his/her physical and psychological aspects being considered.
The importance of Dr. Edderai during this therapy
Myofunctional Therapy is a regimen designed to correct orofacial muscle imbalance and abnormal swallowing patterns. Dental practitioners have long been concerned about the effect of the dental form on orofacial muscle function and the function of the orofacial muscles on dental form. This concern has extended into every facet of dentistry and speech pathology because of the interrelationship between the orofacial muscle imbalance with successful orthodontic treatment and successful speech sound correction.
Abnormal swallowing patterns and orofacial muscle imbalance are contributing factors to many kinds of malocclusion. The importance of occlusion to good dental health and the important role of facial musculature are well understood in the dental and speech professions. The orofacial complex is functionally designed, delicately balanced, and an amazingly complex machine. It is subjected to the constant pressures of mastication and swallowing. The teeth must be balanced in their functional environment to sustain these pressures. Orofacial muscle imbalance and abnormal swallowing patterns may contribute to certain types of speech difficulties.
The purpose of myofunctional therapy is to remove the undesirable pressure exerted by the orofacial musculature against the dentition, which results in malocclusion and concomitant speech disorders. Myofunctional therapy, when properly utilized, can be a most effective tool in the correction of orofacial muscle imbalance and subsequently, the correction of certain types of speech disorders.