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Updated: Jan 29

A child with thumbs up performing myofunctional therapy exercise.

Our oral habits — both good and bad — develop over time through repetitive motions and daily routines. Starting from when we’re young and well into adulthood, the ways we position our tongue, jaw alignment, how we chew, and even how we breathe can be affected by lifelong bad habits. Instead of suffering through these poor habits and seeing your oral health suffer, as a result, myofunctional therapy can potentially be your answer!

Dentists at a trusted TMJ and facial pain clinic can prescribe myofunctional therapy to their patients to help rehabilitate some bad oral health habits. However, when a patient first hears this, their first question is, “What is myofunctional therapy, and how can it help me?

What Is Myofunctional Therapy?

This type of therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles in your face, neck, and mouth to help alleviate some common ailments that negatively affect your daily life. These poor habits can run the gamut from mouth breathing, nasal breathing, difficulty chewing or swallowing, bad breath, sleep apnea, and more, each one affecting you differently but still making a significant impact on your dental health.

With myofunctional therapy, your dentist identifies which areas of your oral health can benefit from strengthening and then assigns specific exercises designed to do just that. These therapeutic exercises can be done on your own time and aim to eliminate the adverse effects these inefficiencies can have on your daily life.

What Are the Signs I Should Look For?

Your mouth’s natural resting position consists of your tongue having a slight upward bend at the tip that touches the roof of your mouth; your lips should be sealed shut, and your teeth are not touching. If you notice that it’s taking more effort to maintain this position, it can result from these bad habits altering your mouth positioning. When you visit your dentist regularly, they can readily see the signs that your mouth isn’t resting correctly.

The way that you swallow can also lead to poor oral health that requires dental care that goes beyond brushing your teeth more often. When you swallow, your tongue should hit the top of your mouth — not the sides of your teeth. When you start routinely hitting the sides of your teeth, it can cause trauma to your tongue, among other oral health problems.

Teeth grinding might seem like something you naturally do while you’re under stress, but it’s also a sign that your mouth isn’t resting in its natural position. As you feel your teeth grind, it can hasten tooth decay.

How Can Myofunctional Therapy Exercises Help Me?

When your mouth rests unnaturally throughout your day, it can affect everything from jaw alignment to the quality of your speech and even how well you sleep. Finding ways to strengthen and retrain your mouth to rest as naturally as possible can prove challenging without the help of myofunctional therapy. Your dentist will be the first one to tell you that you’ll need to undergo myofunctional treatment.

The types of easy at-home exercises target specific areas where you’re weakest and help develop a routine to strengthen them. Based on your particular needs, your dentist will assign exercises with the express intent of strengthening these muscles and correcting any bad habits.

Let Aesthetic Smiles Help With Your Myofunctional Therapy!

Aesthetic Smiles is Portland’s number one choice for restorative dental services and sleep apnea treatment. Our expertly trained staff knows what to look for when it comes to oral health problems, and we can prescribe personalized therapies for our patients. Contact the Aesthetic Smiles team to schedule your next appointment today!

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