There’s an increase in information regarding myofunctional therapy available on the internet. It’s hard to differentiate between the good, the bad, and the outright ridiculous.
There are concerning reoccurring myths that seem to pop up often. As usual, there’s some truth in some myths, and outright fiction in others. You may have even bought into some of them, so here’s my take on the 5 biggest myths about myofunctional therapy.
1. Certification is the gold standard
Perhaps the biggest and most obnoxious myth surrounding this growing field is that certification is required or somehow the gold standard. Granted, many professions require much training and tests of skill, likewise for myofunctional therapy. It doesn’t however always come from the certification process that exists currently.
To be eligible for the certification process, one must take a 4 day intro course with the professional organization that offers certification. End qualifications. Yes, that’s it. Problem being, while the 4 day course is standardized and regulated, it’s not nearly comprehensive of acquired skill. Most therapists take many courses, both introductory and advanced to learn the basics prior to treating clients.
The most known certification process is expensive and involves a test and an on-site examination. The test is lengthy and requires significant research. It’s very thorough and is a stand alone perfect examination of the science behind myofunctional therapy concepts. The on-site, I hear, is a great learning experience for the tested. So what’s the problem? Well there is none if that’s the chosen route for that therapist. I thought that path was for me when I started the process and completed the test.
However, the further I got into it, the less I felt it made any difference in how I do my therapy. In fact, myofunctional therapy alone is the least dynamic or impactful portion of my current program. In the dozens of courses and lectures I’ve attended I’ve learned significantly more concepts and tools that impacted patient outcomes faster and easier. I’ve also made great connections with many others in the field who have taken various paths to either certification or continuous learning.
That’s right, there are more options to certification. Don’t be fooled by the constant push towards one type of therapist. There’s an entire college program with certification that requires more time and demonstrated clinical work. There are several programs with 12 weeks of training offering their own letters of achievement. Then there’s the many like me. I’m committed to saving the large sum for certification to continued learning and improvement.
Being certified is not a requirement and does not equate to a better therapist. There are many paths within the field and when choosing a therapist it is important to ask questions to make sure they can treat you or your loved one in the manner you wish. Myth busted.
2. Tongue tie releases resolve symptoms
That may or may not be related to myofunctional therapy, but it comes up a lot in my practice. I get emails and calls about just doing tongue tie release pre and post support. The association between myofunctional therapy and tongue ties has increased in awareness. But, the releasing of a tied or tethered tongue is not the end of the journey.
In fact, in most instances it should be in the middle of the journey. For babies especially! You need a support team to see optimal results. Particularly when there are issues with breastfeeding, speech, eating, and mouth breathing.
The tongue is composed of 8 muscles that work together to manipulate the tongue in function and at rest. Those muscles do not know how to work simple because they are given more freedom to do so. Lactation consultants, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, myofunctional therapists, physical therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors and craniosacral therapists should make up, to some extent, your prep and recovery team.
If you had a release and saw no improvement or if you are looking into getting a release in the future, expect to run a marathon. There are easy solutions for problems that have occurred for years or possibly decades. The longer you have lived with a tongue tie and any resulting compensatory dysfunction, the greater need for a support team and a thorough treatment plan.
Ignore the click bait articles of nonverbal children who magically spoke upon release. They are not the norm and often had years of speech therapy prior to release that may well have contributed to rapid improvement. Expect to work prior to release and for some time after for best symptom relief. Myth busted.
3. Myofunctional therapy has to be done with a therapist
Nope. As much as I would just like to leave this there as no, I’ll expound. This myth should read: myofunctional therapy is best done with a therapist. Yet it always gets told as a requirement. You can do your own self-guided therapy. There’s nothing overly complex about the goals of myofunctional therapy. Tongue up. Lips closed. Breathe through the nose.
Granted, that last one might require medical intervention to achieve. However, just as I achieved my wide palate and ideal occlusion without therapy (I’ll expound of this more in my next post), you can too.
Are you a hard worker? Committed to results? Somewhat obsessive? Very self-aware? If you answered yes to all then you’ve got this! There’s nothing more required and it’s all laid out in a complete myofunctional therapy journal. Why can’t you see success with YouTube posted exercises? Because that’s all they are, exercises. Exercises are not a full therapy program, rather, a portion of it. So guide yourself to results if you so desire and/or are unable to afford professional help.
Self guidance is better than no guidance. Nothing is impossible, there are only wrong approaches. Myth busted.
4. Myofunctional therapy is easy
Do not confuse the idea that you can self-guide yourself to success with the myth that myofunctional therapy is easy. It is not at all. To complete a myofunctional therapy program requires commitment and takes time. Your therapist structures a program that is personalized for your specific struggles as assessed upon intake or evaluation. Some programs require a year of work to complete.
With generalized goals in mind you can accomplish results and see improvement through self-guidance. Complex cases will always need professional guidance. Whether guided by a professional or done on your own expect to work hard to reach goals and habituation.
5. Tele-therapy is not as effective as in-person
That depends entirely on individual learning style. Have you ever used a recipe successfully? Either by watching a video instruction or by having written instructions. If you have, you may be a great candidate for tele-therapy.
Tele-therapy involves having a distance learning experience with your therapist via video conferencing. You get the same one-on-one instructions, guidance, support and feedback as you would in-person. For some people the lack of physical instruction is a barrier to success. When that’s the case, as would be determined by prior experience with distance learning (recipe, exercise instruction, DIY assembly or construction, etc), seek out a local myofunctional therapist.
There are many cases of very successful treatment via tele-therapy. It often may be the thing that leads you to working with a desired therapist that does not live in your area. This is a myth that varies both on learning style and therapist preference. Busted.