Orofacial myofunctional therapy is an approach to treating many potential conditions. It sounds appealing because it treats so many situations, and it treats without the uncomfortable tools other treatments use. Orthodontics without braces and sleep apnea treatment without CPAP all seem appealing. However, is orofacial myofunctional therapy a good choice for you? It might be if some of the following descriptions resemble you.
You Have Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders
Orofacial myofunctional therapy treats orofacial myofunctional disorders (OMD). These disorders are patterns of behavior that don’t lead to the healthy, complete development of the oral health system. They can also impair the normal daily function of the jaw system. You might have difficulty swallowing, speaking, breathing, and more.
OMDs can sometimes be noticeable, like a tendency to rest with your lips apart. But others you might not be aware of. Poor swallowing habits or holding your tongue in an unhealthy position often go unnoticed.
Before we recommend orofacial myofunctional therapy, our therapist will evaluate you for OMDs.
You Have TMJ Symptoms
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ / TMD) can cause many symptoms. Headaches, jaw pain, limited jaw motion, or even a locked jaw are all common symptoms. But there are also many that range throughout your body. TMJ symptoms can be hard to treat, and your doctor may even find the condition hard to diagnose.
Although there are many ways to treat TMJ, orofacial myofunctional therapy can be effective. Improved habits like better tongue positioning and swallowing will encourage healthy interaction between the different parts of the jaw system. With this treatment, you may see a reduction in your TMJ symptoms over time.
You Want to Improve Breathing
OMDs can contribute to poor breathing directly or indirectly. Directly, poor habits of holding your mouth and tongue in certain positions can lead to inefficient breathing and more mouth breathing. Indirectly, OMDs can affect the development of your skull and jaw. The skull and jaw determine the shape of your airway and narrow jaws can lead to a small, constricted airway.
At night, your constricted airway can collapse, causing snoring or sleep apnea. During the day, your constricted airway can make breathing difficult. You might find that you get winded easily and feel exhausted.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy can encourage the development of your jaws, which leads to expanded airways. The therapy can also encourage you to hold your tongue, lips, and jaw in a position that improves breathing. Proper exercise and healthy habits strengthen the muscles of the airway. This can improve breathing during the day and at night.
You Are Unhappy with Some Facial Features
As we said above, OMDs can lead to poor development of your skull and jaw. This doesn’t just affect your breathing; it can affect your appearance. People with OMDs are often unhappy because of features like a narrow jaw or receding chin.
As OMDs encourage the development of your skull and jaw, they can change these facial features to be more attractive. You can have a more pronounced jawline, including a stronger chin and you may see changes in your profile.
You Can Commit to Daily Exercises
If you want to get results with orofacial myofunctional therapy, you must commit to the strategy. This means doing the recommended exercises daily and wearing the appliance at the recommended times.
By taking up a habit like this daily, you will likely get good results from the approach. However, if you’re the kind of person who can’t make a daily routine and stick to it regularly, then orofacial myofunctional therapy might not be the right approach for you.
You Don’t Need Immediate Results
Orofacial myofunctional therapy is not a treatment that gives immediate results. It takes time to learn new habits, and it takes even longer for these habits to impact your musculoskeletal system. Results can take months, sometimes years, to achieve their full effect. You will likely tell that the strategy is effective within weeks, but this is not an approach to turn to if you are trying to achieve results by the end of the month. It’s also not a good standalone approach for people with extreme symptoms. Disorders like severe sleep apnea or TMJ pose an imminent danger to life or disruption of your ability to function and need quicker treatment.
You Accept You Might Need Additional Treatment
We typically say that orofacial myofunctional therapy can lead to a reduction in the severity of your condition. It’s possible to see a full resolution of some symptoms, but it’s best not to count on it. Orofacial myofunctional therapy works best when used preventively by children, teens, and young adults. The older you get, the less the treatment might be able to overcome and reverse the impact of a lifetime of bad habits.
Therefore, many people–especially older individuals and those with severe conditions–might need additional treatment to achieve the results they are looking for. If you can’t accept that, then orofacial myofunctional therapy might not be right for you.
Get Evaluated for Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy in Fort Atkins
If you are in Fort Atkins and are considering orofacial myofunctional therapy, let us evaluate your symptoms, anatomy, and goals. Then TMJ dentist Dr. Jennifer Stafford and our team can let you know if this is the right approach for you.
Please call (920) 563-7323 or email us today to schedule your appointment at our office in Fort Atkins.