Myofunctional Therapy for Adults [3 Ways It Can Help You]

It’s never too late to seek myofunctional therapy as an adult. Myofunctional therapy is a blend of physical therapy exercises designed to improve various aspects of your mouth, face, and neck. From chronic allergies to trouble breathing when you sleep, it can help improve your quality of life as well as for those around you.Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy training

Myofunctional therapy can help with facial pain due to TMD by clearing your airways and making it easier to breathe. It can also help you get a better night’s sleep by treating nighttime issues such as sleep apnea and snoring. Tongue thrusting can be treated with myofunctional therapy by teaching you proper tongue placement, proper swallowing patterns, and nasal breathing. 

1. Facial Pain from TMD

Short for temporomandibular joint disorder, TMD occurs when your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) isn’t working correctly. When healthy, the TMJ helps your jaw to move smoothly, making it possible to:

  • Talk
  • Chew
  • Yawn

Unfortunately, the TMJ can malfunction, resulting in a TMD. If you have TMD then you may experience pain and soreness when moving your jaw for any reason. 

Experts aren’t entirely certain what causes TMD. Theories have ranged from erosion, falling out of alignment, damaged cartilage, other jaw issues, or problems with the TMJ itself. Check out our blog on TMD to learn more about the disorder and how dentists are uniquely equipped to treat it.

One current theory is that it’s actually an orofacial myofunctional disorder caused by long-term mouth breathing. While common symptoms such as clenched and popping jaws indicate a problem with the TMJ, research has shown that these symptoms may be actually the result of airway resistance.  

Airway resistance occurs when your airway is either too narrow or has become blocked by mucus, your tongue or tonsils, and adenoids. To compensate for this, your body responds with teeth grinding, especially when you’re sleeping. This can lead to problems when you’re awake such as:

  • Facial pain
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches

These problems can be caused by lingual ties, or tongue ties, that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. One study found that myofunctional therapy had a noticeable positive impact on patients, including:

  • A significant reduction of pain
  • Increased range of motion in the jaw
  • Reduction of signs and symptoms of TMD
  • Improved orofacial myofunctional conditions

We’re passionate about helping our patients live the lives they deserve through comfortable dentistry. With myofunctional therapy, you can develop the skills you need to sleep and breathe better while reducing your TMD-related facial pain.   

2. Snoring and Sleep Apnea

Myofunctional therapy can be used to treat certain cases of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Weak muscles in the tongue, mouth, and upper throat can lead to breathing problems when you’re sleeping due to soft tissue collapse. Myofunctional therapy targets those muscles in order to strengthen them and give you a more peaceful and stress-free night’s rest.

Your mouth and throat help comprise your oropharynx. Muscles in the oropharynx help you to chew, talk, and breathe. They’re also integral for holding your airway open, especially at night when you’re asleep. Weakened oropharynx muscles may cause your airway to narrow, resulting in snoring

More concerning is if the muscles collapse completely while you sleep. This is known as sleep apnea and can cause you to momentarily stop breathing while you’re asleep. It’s also possible for your airway to become obstructed if your tongue falls back into your throat due to weak muscles and improper tongue position. 

Research has found that myofunctional therapy may decrease the severity of sleep apnea. For instance, you could experience a drop to milder levels if you have moderate sleep apnea and get a better night’s sleep. Not only that, but your partner will appreciate the decrease in snoring,  as well.

Myofunctional therapy can be a much more preferable form of sleep apnea treatment than other methods. Unlike surgery, it’s non-invasive and requires zero downtime. Patients may also prefer it to continuous positive airway pressure treatment, also known as CPAP machines. These machines can be loud and bulky, making it difficult to sleep even if it’s easier to breathe.

3. Tongue Thrust

Tongue thrust is a condition where your tongue pushes too far out when talking or swallowing. Continued tongue thrusting can lead to problems in adulthood. It’s possible to develop tongue thrust as an adult, but this is rare.

Signs of adult tongue thrusting include:

  • Chronic allergies
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Swollen adenoids
  • Messy eating

These signs are apparent in both adults and children who thrust their tongues. If left untreated, you may display elongated facial features due to the inability to close your mouth or swallow normally. For more information about childhood tongue thrusting, check out our blog on children and myofunctional therapy. 

You can learn proper tongue placement with myofunctional therapy. It can help you correct the placement of your tongue, lips, and jaw, leading to a correction in swallowing and tooth alignment. 

Myofunctional Therapy for Adults in Knoxville, TN

Here at My Family Dentistry, we know how much of an impact your oral health can have on your overall health. We also know that there’s more to oral health than just your teeth. Myofunctional disorders can have a huge negative impact on your quality of life, and we’re dedicated to using every tool at our disposal to make it better.

It’s never too late to pursue myofunctional therapy and improve your quality of life. We can provide you with therapy to help reduce recurring facial pain due to TMD. Sleep apnea and snoring can be treated with myofunctional therapy to improve your quality of sleep as well as your partner’s. With proper tongue placement, you can reduce tongue thrusting and its effects.

Want to learn more about how adult myofunctional therapy can improve your quality of life? Schedule your appointment today and learn to breathe easier!

My Family Dentistry is open Monday through Thursday and every other Friday. Give us a call at (865) 947-6453 or you can schedule an appointment online.

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