How Your Dental Team Uses Myofunctional Therapy to Fix Misaligned Teeth
When you’re trying to find a solution to any problem, the best way to go about it is often to look at it from different angles. This approach helps you ensure that you’ve found the best solution, one that addresses every aspect of the problem instead of a single angle. The same reasoning also applies to dentistry. For many people, orthodontic treatment is all they need to successfully straighten misaligned teeth long term, but that isn’t always the case. In some cases, there are underlying issues, such as the resting posture of your mouth, that can cause orthodontic issues to resurface even after treatment.
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution. Orofacial myofunctional therapy focuses on strengthening the muscles of your face, cheeks, lips, and tongue so that they work together properly, ensuring that your teeth will stay straight long term. Similarly, if you’re undergoing orofacial myofunctional therapy, your dentist may also suggest that you undergo orthodontic treatment as well. Using the two treatments together allows dentists to address misalignment comprehensively. This approach doesn’t just help your teeth look better, though—it also relieves a surprisingly wide array of symptoms that you may not even realize result from your misaligned teeth. Here are 5 of these problems and how myofunctional therapy helps resolve them.
1. Clenching or Grinding Teeth
When your teeth are uneven and don’t fit together well, you’re more likely to develop a habit of clenching or grinding them. Not only does this increase the risk that you’ll crack or chip your teeth, but it can cause enamel erosion over time. Straightening the alignment of your teeth and ensuring that it stays even through myofunctional therapy can help resolve this habit. Orofacial myofunctional therapy can also help you develop the proper oral posture, which is the way your mouth is positioned when it’s relaxed, and transform it into a natural position you don’t have to think about. This does more than just protect your teeth—it can relieve symptoms of clenching or grinding your teeth like toothaches and sensitivity, helping you feel more comfortable on a daily basis.
2. Mouth Breathing Cause by Misaligned Teeth
Under normal circumstances, most people breathe through their noses—our noses even have built-in defenses to protect us against bacteria and viruses. Breathing almost or completely through your mouth leaves it constantly ajar and can impact the way you look, speak, and eat. There are many potential causes for mouth breathing, such as severe rhinitis or enlarged tonsils, but it can also be caused by malocclusion or by weakness in the muscles that are responsible for holding your mouth in a relaxed, closed position. In addition to straightening your bite, these muscles can be exercised and strengthened over time. This is exactly what myofunctional therapy does. Through daily exercises, myofunctional therapy helps the muscles in your face gain the strength to hold your mouth closed and breathe through your nose.
3. Snoring and Sleep Apnea Caused by Misaligned teeth
Malocclusion and weak muscles can also contribute to or lead to problems breathing when you fall asleep. This is because you’re more likely to snore when you breathe through your mouth. This doesn’t mean that you have sleep apnea by default, but even snoring on its own can cause sleep disturbances for you and your partner. That said, these issues can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea as well. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the muscles in your mouth, tongue, and throat relaxing too much when you fall asleep, blocking your airway.
Straightening your misaligned teeth helps the proper, relaxed position for your mouth feel more natural, causing you to breathe through your nose even in your sleep and reducing or eliminating snoring. At the same time, orofacial myofunctional therapy uses exercises to strengthen weak muscles in your face, mouth, and throat, helping to reduce the likelihood that they’ll obstruct your airway in your sleep. The two treatments work together to help you—and your partner—get deeper, more refreshing sleep.
4. Poor Digestion and Stomachaches
It sounds weird, right? How could your teeth and the muscles in your face lead to stomach issues? There are actually several major ways. Weak muscles in your face, mouth, and throat can lead to improper swallowing, which is often characterized by pushing the tongue against or through the front teeth in order to swallow. This method is less efficient, often causing you to swallow air, and can contribute to or cause malocclusions like an open bite by pushing your front teeth outward over time.
Malocclusions can make chewing difficult, so you may chew your food less thoroughly before you swallow it. This may not sound like a big deal, but chewing is the first step of the digestive process—if it’s not chewed as well, your stomach has a harder time breaking down your food and extracting nutrients from it. This can lead to stomachaches and digestion that isn’t as efficient as it should be. In these cases, straightening your misaligned teeth and training yourself and your muscles to swallow properly can work wonders for your digestive health. This means you may be able to benefit from a straight, beautiful smile and fewer stomachaches all at once.
5. TMJ Pain Caused by Misaligned Teeth
Malocclusions and weak muscles in your face and mouth can both put more of a strain on your temporomandibular joint and the surrounding musculature. This is because when your bite doesn’t fit together properly or when the muscles that generally work certain functions of your jaw are too weak, other muscles must take up the slack and can become overworked. This can cause pain and inflammation in the joints of your jaw as well as muscle pain and tension in your face, neck, shoulders, and upper back. This muscle tension can lead to frequent headaches as well, while inflammation can lead to issues like dizziness. Straightening the misaligned teeth helps you hold your jaw more naturally while strengthening weak muscles ensures that every muscle is pulling its weight and functioning the way it’s supposed to. The result is a restoration of balance in your jaw and the surrounding muscles, preventing tension from forming in the first place. It has the potential to transform the way you go about your day by helping you to live headache- and pain-free.
Orofacial myofunctional therapy isn’t always necessary alongside orthodontic care, but it’s always wise to look at your oral health from multiple angles and take a comprehensive approach to your treatment. When orofacial myofunctional therapy is beneficial, it can help ensure that your teeth stay straight in the long term in addition to transforming the way you feel on a daily basis.