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  • Writer's pictureJessica Hundley

Myofunctional Therapy: What Parents Need to Know


As a parent of young children, you may have heard about myofunctional therapy, but you might not know exactly what it is or how it can help your child. In this post, we'll explore what myofunctional therapy is, what it can help with, and how it can benefit your child's overall health and well-being.


Have you noticed your child has trouble speaking, swallowing, or breathing? Do people sometimes have trouble understanding your child? Or maybe their snoring is keeping the family up at night. There may be a simple solution called myofunctional therapy. This type of speech therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles in the face, mouth, and throat.

Think about it like going to the gym, but instead of working on your biceps or abs, you're working on the muscles in your mouth and throat. By doing specific exercises, your child can improve their tongue and lip placement, breathing, and swallowing patterns.

Myofunctional therapy can be helpful for a variety of issues, such as tongue thrust (when the tongue pushes against the teeth during speech or swallowing), mouth breathing, and sleep apnea. It can also help with overall oral health and hygiene.

What is myofunctional therapy?

Myofunctional therapy is a type of speech therapy that focuses on the muscles of the face, mouth, and throat. It involves exercises and techniques that help to retrain and strengthen these muscles, which can improve a variety of functions, such as breathing, swallowing, and speech. It takes specialized, post-graduate training in order to treat.

What can myofunctional therapy help with?

Myofunctional therapy can help with a wide range of issues, including:

  • Tongue thrust: When the tongue pushes forward against the teeth during swallowing, which can cause dental problems and speech issues.

  • Mouth breathing: When a child primarily breathes through their mouth rather than their nose, which can correlate with a range of health issues, including dry mouth, bad breath, and sleep disordered breathing.

  • Speech problems: When a child has difficulty pronouncing certain sounds or words, or has a lisp.

  • Swallowing difficulties: When a child has trouble swallowing food or liquid, which can lead to choking, gagging or picky eating habits.

How can myofunctional therapy benefit my child?

Myofunctional therapy can have numerous benefits for your child, including:

  • Improved breathing: By teaching your child how to breathe properly through their nose, myofunctional therapy can help to reduce snoring, improve sleep quality, and decrease the risk of sleep disordered breathing.

  • Improved speech: By strengthening the muscles involved in speech, myofunctional therapy can help your child to speak more clearly and confidently.

  • Improved swallowing: By improving your child's ability to swallow safely and effectively, myofunctional therapy can reduce the risk of choking and aspiration, and improve their overall nutrition and health.

  • Improved oral hygiene: By teaching your child how to properly position their tongue and teeth, myofunctional therapy can improve their dental health and reduce the risk of cavities, gum disease, and orthodontic relapse.

How can I get started with myofunctional therapy?

If you're concerned about your child's speech, swallowing, or breathing, myofunctional therapy may be worth looking into. The first step is to talk to your pediatrician or a speech therapist. They can help you to determine if myofunctional therapy is appropriate for your child and refer you to a qualified therapist in your area.

Overall, myofunctional therapy can be a valuable tool for helping your child to develop healthy habits and improve their overall health and well-being. By strengthening the muscles of the face, mouth, and throat, myofunctional therapy can help your child to breathe, speak, and swallow more effectively, and lead a happier, healthier life.



References:

  1. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Myofunctional Disorders. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/Practice-Portal/Clinical-Topics/Myofunctional-Disorders/

  2. Barroso, E.M., Barcellos, A.P., Oliveira, M.T., & Souza, T.V. (2015). Myofunctional therapy in children with mouth breathing: A systematic review. International Archives of Otorhinolaryngology, 19(4), 358-364. doi: 10.1055/s-0035-1555159

  3. Chan, M.Y., & Chan, S. (2020). Myofunctional therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep and Breathing, 24(3), 981-990. doi: 10.1007/s11325-020-02050-7

  4. Guilleminault, C., Huang, Y.S., & Monteyrol, P.J. (2019). Myofunctional therapy to treat obstructive sleep apnea: A review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 44, 29-40. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2018.09.003

  5. Perumal, S.S., Srinivasan, S.V., & Suresh, S. (2016). Myofunctional therapy for the treatment of tongue thrust: A systematic review. International Journal of Orofacial Myology, 42, 51-63.

  6. Riquelme, L.F., Andrade, R.G., Martínez-Mier, E.A., & Medina-Solís, C.E. (2021). Myofunctional therapy in pediatric dentistry: A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 45(2), 82-89. doi: 10.17796/1053-4628-45.2.3

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