What is myofunctional therapy? How do I know if my child needs it?

What is myofunctional therapy? How do I know if my child needs it?

Why are crooked teeth in children becoming so common?

Research shows that crowded teeth, incorrect jaw development and other orthodontic problems are not entirely hereditary.
Crooked or misaligned teeth are often caused by poor oral habits such as thumb sucking, prolonged use of the bottle/pacifier, mouth breathing, tongue thrust,  improper swallowing patterns, and conditions such as tongue or lip-ties.

An improvement in oral habits from a young age usually results in proper jaw development, leading to minimal need for orthodontic treatment later.

Myofunctional therapy is a combination of physical therapy exercises for the mouth, tongue, and face muscles. The exercises are designed specifically to improve your chewing and swallowing, and most importantly, the way you breathe.
One of the main goals of myofunctional therapy is nasal breathing. Breathing through the nose is essential for proper craniofacial development and general health and well-being.

Signs your child may need myofunctional therapy

It is important to note that myofunctional therapy works best when implemented at a young age, as it can profoundly impact your child’s orofacial development.

Studies have found that mouth breathing is one of the main contributors of Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) and can induce obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by increasing airway collapse and nasal resistance.

A systematic review has also shown that mouth breathers are more likely to have learning difficulties than nasal breathers especially in school-age children.

That’s why we at DP Dental recommend early and routine dental checkups for young children.
myofunctional therapy for kids

Here are a few signs that imply that your child has a poor oral posture and can benefit from myofunctional therapy:

  • Mouth breathing or open mouth posture
  • Dark eye circles
  • Non-ideal facial profile (E.g. a face that is longer than usual)
  • Incompetent lips (Excessive separation of the lips at rest)
  • Chapped or dry lips
  • Crooked teeth
  • Sleepiness or tiredness
  • Difficulty in focussing at school

myofunctional therapy for kids

Can Myofunctional therapy for kids correct crooked/misaligned teeth?

As Dr Yue Weng Cheu, Clinical Director of DP Dental points out, “It is essential to understand that the position of teeth depends on the lips, tongue and cheek.

“So if you notice that your child’s baby teeth are not straight, you should take note of the position of the tongue and check whether there is a mouth breathing habit. The use of pacifiers and thumb sucking can affect the tongue posture. 

“Of course, there are some genetic influences, but it will not affect more than 30% of the outcome. We can still use habit correction to ensure a better outcome of growth and development of the jaw and for better alignment of teeth.”

The whole idea behind myofunctional therapy is to not just correct physical imperfections like crooked/misaligned teeth but to go deeper, identify the root cause of the problem and rectify your oral habits to improve your overall health.

Still, an improvement in oral habits from a young age usually results in proper jaw development, leading to minimal need for orthodontic treatment later, or need for surgical correction, which will be a more complex and expensive affair.

How does myofunctional therapy for kids work at DP Dental?

At DP Dental, we practise holistic dentistry. When you bring your child to seek dental treatment, we don’t only just look at the teeth and gums, but we also help identify any poor oral habits that may be affecting your child’s breathing, sleep and overall health.

Through Myofunctional Therapy, we aim to restore and maintain proper oral habits, which include:

  • Establishing nasal breathing
  • Bringing the lips together at rest
  • Upward tongue resting posture in the palate
  • Better mindfulness of chewing and swallowing habits

For a child who is too young to start habit correction therapy, we advise changes to be made via dietary habits. For instance, a modern diet that is highly processed and soft in texture does not stimulate jaw development as there would be minimum chewing. Therefore, you should give your child food which is high in nutrition and is more solid in texture to encourage optimal jaw and facial growth.

When the child is older, we are usually able to determine whether he or she needs myofunctional therapy.

Treatment will begin with patients being guided through a series of oral-facial (myofunctional) exercise routines with our myofunctional educator, which takes a few minutes to do. It is recommended to be done twice a day. This is to encourage proper muscle rehabilitation and in turn, habit change. At times, the exercises are combined with the wearing of a myofunctional appliance (such as Myobrace, Myo Munchee, Myospots etc.).

To summarise, one of the most important aspects of Myofunctional treatment is correcting poor oral habits, and getting patients to breathe through their nose. Mouth breathing reduces the oxygen supply that your body receives. It is one of the leading causes of sleep disorders in children. Mouth breathing may cause crooked teeth, facial deformities, or non-optimal growth in children.

If you notice that your child is breathing through the mouth, or have their mouth open when they’re relaxed, we suggest that you approach us for a proper evaluation. Early intervention is key. By tackling the root causes early, you can make big health changes for your child and minimise the time spent in braces in future.

To know more, or to book an appointment, do call us at 62820122 or WhatsApp at 9012 8562.

Also READ: Early Intervention and Habit Correction Can Treat Crooked Teeth in Children

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Dr Loh Ee Tyug

Dr Loh Ee Tyug received her Bachelor of Dental Surgery from National University of Singapore in 2001 where she received numerous awards, including the FAC Ohlers Award for the Best Clinical Student.