One of the causes of sleep apnea or snoring is actually muscle weakness in the upper throat, mouth, and tongue. By strengthening these airway muscles with exercises involved in myofunctional therapy, those suffering from sleep apnea or snoring can improve their symptoms. Sleep dentist, Dr. Stafford at Bite Align in Fort Atkinson, WI, has helped numerous patients improve their symptoms and lives through the help of myofunctional therapy. Discover how these tongue exercises can improve sleep apnea below.

Woman working out while sticking out her tongue

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Myofunctional therapy is a program designed to Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Fort Atkinson that are otherwise weak. Oftentimes, when people have weak facial muscles, it results in problems such as small airways, dental problems, speech issues, and trouble eating. The oropharynx is the area of the body that includes the throat and mouth. It’s essentially a tube lined with muscles. These muscles are responsible for helping us eat, talk, breathe and speak. When they’re weak, they may disrupt the airway and disrupt the airflow and cause snoring. If the airway collapses instead, this can cause sleep apnea. In the end, a floppy tongue that has weak muscles can fall back into the throat during sleep and cause airway obstruction.

Myofunctional Therapy for Sleep Apnea

Instead of using a CPAP machine or wearing an oral appliance at night, myofunctional therapy may be an alternative treatment for some patients. Research has demonstrated that the therapy is effective at decreasing sleep apnea from a moderate level to a mild level. It can result in reduced snoring and less daytime sleepiness, allowing patients to get a more restful night of sleep.

Myofunctional therapy for sleep apnea will include a set of exercises that need to be performed every day. Each of these exercises is meant to strengthen the tongue and the other muscles in the oropharynx. Exercises include holding your tongue in different positions for ten seconds at a time. Dr. Stafford will provide you with a complete list and go over the exercises in person during your appointment.

If a patient is already suffering from severe sleep apnea, we may also recommend using an oral appliance at night until the effects of myofunctional therapy take place. This will allow patients to still rest better and reduce the sleep apnea symptoms they may experience during the day. Treating sleep apnea is important for increasing energy and reducing the associated health risks.

If you think myofunctional therapy might be a good option for treating your sleep apnea or snoring, please contact Bite Align for an appointment. If we don’t think myofunctional therapy is a good option for you, we will recommend an alternative sleep apnea treatment. Please call (920) 563-7323 to schedule an appointment today.