Dental professionals talk about the crucial role of myofunctional therapy for patients suffering from orofacial myofunctional disorders.
The profession of dental medicine is an ever-evolving one, with many professionals committed to improving oral health care for patients. Over the years, advancements in diagnostic tools and treatment modalities have given clinicians increased abilities to treat conditions previously treated solely through oral surgery or removing teeth.
One condition that has gained increasing attention in Northstar dental care is OMD or orofacial myofunctional disorders. This condition is characterized by one or more of the following: lingual extrusion (pushing the tongue against the inside of the teeth), labial protrusion (pushing out with the lips), and reversed swallowing.
Many professionals note that patients who engage in these patterns are at increased risk for TMJ problems, open bites, crossbites, and gagging. These patients are also more likely to suffer from bruxism, teeth grinding, clenching, headache, and sleep apnea.
And yet, identifying patients who engage in these behaviors can be difficult, considering that many of them have no idea they’re doing it. Nevertheless, the professionals in Northstar dental care who treat patients with oral myofunctional disorders have effectively solved the problem.
Myofunctional therapy is a treatment process for patients with OMD and other oral myofunctional disorders. It focuses on using exercises, such as tongue push-ups, to help patients retrain their tongues and muscles of the lips, cheeks, larynx, pharynx, and epiglottis.
The practice is based on research demonstrating that these patterns are functional overuses of the muscles of speech and mastication rather than dysfunctional. In other words, the patterns are not caused by emotional or mental problems; they result from how these muscles have been used over time.
Hence this type of therapy will be useful for patients who want to manage their OMD more effectively without going through surgery or removing teeth. It’s a process that involves the entire team, including the patient and their family.
Many dental professionals have turned to myofunctional therapy for more immediate relief from patients who have oral myofunctional disorders, particularly because this practice is noninvasive and offers rapid results. Patients with OMD typically report improvement within a few weeks of starting this type of therapy, and many go on to manage their oral myofunctional disorders long-term successfully.
In fact, according to a 2011 study, more than 90 percent of patients with OMD who completed myofunctional therapy experienced effective symptomatic relief after six months. This is a much higher success rate than traditionally exhibited by patients who were treated through other means.
According to the study, the average patient with an OMD had experienced symptoms for almost eight years without any improvement on their own until starting myofunctional therapy. Moreover, more than 40 percent of these patients reported trying some treatment options without success.
But once they started myofunctional therapy, these patients managed or even eliminated their symptoms by using self-care tools like tongue push-ups and other related exercises. They also reported increased confidence in continuing with the treatment at home after the initial six-month phase of the process was complete.