How Does Myofunctional Therapy ‘Work’?
Myofunctional therapy doesn’t just address your oral cavity and tongue—it addresses all the facial muscles; the head and neck. It teaches you to breathe through your nose and rest your tongue against the roof of your mouth. You also exercise all your facial muscles, and work on functional posturing and chewing.
If you are not chewing your food properly, the enzymes in the mouth that aids digestion do not get a chance to start the breakdown of the food and the body has to work overtime to digest it. Also, many swallow with a tongue thrust which is a forward swallow on the teeth and forces food down into the stomach with air. Hiccups, flatulence and belching are all warning signs of this reverse swallow pattern.
The muscles in the face and mouth support the bone and teeth. Any imbalance of these muscles can cause abnormal growth, tooth movement and jaw joint pain. Some patients who have had braces have had their teeth move back to where they were before. They feel it’s their fault, because they didn’t wear their retainers. However, it is because the muscles are not retaining that position, because the muscles have not adapted to the structure. Doing more preventive work at a younger age to prevent the problem or the disorder lets us be ahead of the game.
A major focus of myofunctional therapy is exercises that train your tongue to spontaneously rest on the roof of your mouth. Many mistakenly believe that the tongue is a muscle, but it’s actually an organ, which has very strong muscles in it. It contains one of the strongest working groups of muscles in your body. The job of the tongue is to protect the airway, encourage normal forward facial growth when postured correctly in the roof of the mouth, aid speech, and move food around when chewing.
If your tongue is restricted due to a lingual frenulum or tongue tie (the string underneath your tongue being too tight) you’ll have a hard time moving food into the molar area where chewing is concentrated, and consequently you will not be able to chew it properly. The tongue is also connected to the hyoid bone which is in your neck, so if your tongue is not functioning properly, it may lead to forward-head posturing. In this position your tongue is resting down and forward, and it’s just enough to pull your entire head forward, thus throwing you out of balance.