Orofacial Myology

We use our muscles in habitual patterns every day, both consciously and unconsciously. As we all know, some habits are good. However, many habits that we are not aware of can cause negative effects in our muscles over time. The incorrect or poor habits that cause these abnormalities are learned at a very early age and are continued throughout life unless they are recognised and changed.

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy is a unique exercise program that corrects muscle function behaviours that can influence occlusion, facial shape, chewing, swallowing and speech. Therapy includes awareness, behavioural modification and a re-education of orofacial muscle patterns. Treatment is designed to develop proper resting postures for the lips, tongue, and jaw by retraining muscle and swallowing patterns to eliminate negative oral habits.

The types of Therapy we offer:

• Habit elimination therapy (thumb sucking etc)

• Mini–myo program for the young child

• Orofacial myofuncional therapy

Habit elimination therapy — this program for habit elimination treatment consists of four to six visits. It deals with thumb and finger sucking, nail biting, hair chewing, tongue and lip sucking and chewing, and many other oral habits. Everyone is born with a sucking habit; it is how one nurses for survival. Usually, at age nine months to 3 1/2 years, the child starts drinking from a cup and eating more solid foods and doesn't need to suck. However, many times a pacifier is used, or the child finds his or her thumb or another object, and the sucking habit is continued. At this point, the tongue is unable to rest and swallow correctly, leading to an open bite, cross bite, or some other type of malocclusion. The program we have developed uses behaviour modification and positive reinforcement. The patient feels so proud to have ceased the habit once and for all!

The mini-myo program for the young child — Many times, young children can benefit from doing exercises to develop positive growth factors and eliminate negative growth pressures. The young child program has to be fun and fast to avoid burnout and disinterest. Because the bones are soft, the changes can be remarkably fast. We use a variety of rewards and behaviour modification techniques. Parental support at home is essential. Many oral motor exercises are done to achieve symmetry and control of saliva and the tongue. The young child program lasts about three to six months and can result in a major life-enhancing change.

The goals of the mini-myo program are:

• Encourage nasal breathing

• Develop a lip seal

• Implement a palatal tongue rest posture

• Encourage bilateral chewing

• Work on proper sleep posture as well as eating posture

• Introduce the “:bite, sip, and swallow back” motion

Orofacial myofunction therapy - has many possible variations, but tongue thrust is the most common. Tongue thrust is a term used to describe a method of swallowing, where the tongue pushes forward against or through the front teeth. Correct swallowing depends on a proper relationship between muscles of the face, mouth and throat. To swallow properly, muscles and nerves in the tongue, cheeks and throat must work together in harmony. When a person swallows normally, the tip of the tongue presses firmly against the roof of the mouth or hard palate, located slightly behind the front teeth. Because a person swallows 500-1000 times a day, it's easy to see how improper swallowing can cause a variety of problems. But it is actually the resting position of the tongue that does the most damage because it is more constant, this is where Myofunctional Therapy helps to correct these poor oral habits. This program lasts for between three to nine months.