Myofunctional therapy can be beneficial to a number of patients, including children suffering from disruptive and even painful symptoms. Therapy can be customized to meet a child’s individual needs and is most successful when parents are motivated and committed to helping their child break certain habits.
Throughout myofunctional therapy, patients will be introduced to a series of exercises and activities that are designed to further develop proper oral positioning and facial muscles. This can include teaching patients new techniques for chewing and swallowing. The sooner myofunctional therapy is started after the onset of symptoms or poor habits, the better the ensuing results are.
The first step in determining if myofunctional therapy would benefit your child is to take note of which symptoms the child is exhibiting. Oral myofunctional disorder (OMD) can lead to underdeveloped muscles in the mouth and face, which then impact the child’s speech and swallowing abilities.
If you suspect your child may be suffering from OMD, seek a medical professional’s opinion. Left untreated, long-term consequences such as tongue thrust, jaw pain, atypical patterns when chewing, airway restriction, and sleep-disordered breathing can create further health issues.
The goal of myofunctional therapy is to eliminate any harmful habits, such as finger sucking, and retrain tongue and facial muscles to improve digestion and posture, and reduce symptoms of TMJD. Through their therapy, children can benefit from improved facial appearance, straighter teeth, increased jaw mobility, expanded airways, and a reduction in the tension of their jaw muscles.
One of the major benefits of myofunctional exercises is improved breathing, which not only helps children to sleep more soundly at night, it allows them to feel more energetic throughout the day. If you’ve noticed your child snoring at night or excessively drooling, these can both be indicators that their quality of sleep is being affected.
Depending on the age of the child, your dentist may use different retraining strategies. Kids as young as 6-7 years old are often mature enough to receive full therapy, while younger kids may benefit from changes to their diet, such as adding in foods that encourage chewing for optimal jaw and facial development.
At My Rivertown Dentist, Dr. Ashley Lee understands the importance of myofunctional therapy. If you suspect your child suffers from OMD — schedule an appointment and discuss your concerns with your dentist. Twice a year exams and cleanings are a helpful way to keep an eye on developmental milestones in a child’s life, as well as to keep their oral health in great condition.