Snoring, sleep apnea, and other disordered breathing are often caused by muscle weakness within the tongue, upper throat, mouth, and face. Like any other muscle in the body, improper use weakens these muscles. Luckily, they can be trained to work properly and become stronger. Strengthening these muscles can reduce obstruction to the airway, helping improve or solve these disordered breathing problems.
The process of strengthening and retraining these muscles is known a Myofunctional Therapy. Recent research has shown that this therapy can be incredibly effective in reducing disordered breathing problems. With myofunctional therapy, patients can improve everything from the soundness of sleeping to comfort when eating, speaking, and breathing.
What is Myofunctional Therapy?
Myofunctional therapy involves the strengthening of several different muscles in the face, mouth, and throat, also known as the oropharynx. This group of muscles help us breathe, talk, chew, and swallow. They also are responsible for keeping the airway open – especially while sleeping.
When these muscles are weak, they can begin to disrupt the flow of air through the airway. Depending on the severity of the weakness, this can lead to light snoring or, if they fully collapse, obstructive sleep apnea. Similarly, a weak tongue muscle can fall into the back of the throat to create a similar obstruction.
How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?
Myofuctional therapy strengthens the muscles of the oropharynx – including the tongue – and helps reinforce the proper position of the tongue. Strengthening these muscles with simple exercises helps keep them from collapsing, therefore keeping the airways open and preventing blockage-induced disordered breathing.
In addition, these exercises help prevent movement of the teeth and uncomfortable swallowing caused by poor tongue placement.
Who is Myofunctional Therapy For?
Nearly everyone with disordered breathing is a good candidate for myofunctional therapy. It is especially effective for children who are struggling with disordered breathing problems or those who are not comfortable sleeping in a CPAP machine. It can even help patients avoid surgery.
Myofunctional therapy is a painless, relatively simple treatment for sleep apnea, snoring, oral breathing, and even more disordered breathing problems. By correcting and strengthening muscle patterns in the oropharynx with the help of a trained professional like those at My Family Dentistry, you’ll find your disordered breathing improving in as little as 6 months.
If you’re curious about how myofunctional therapy can help your disordered breathing, contact us today for a consultation.