Two of the most common Google searches regarding this subject is by those entering “is myofunctional therapy legit” and “is myofunctional therapy a scam?” There is nothing wrong with skepticism, it’s a human quality that protects us. Had more people Googled “is the Fyre Festival a scam,” prior to paying for it, that may have turned out very differently.
There are times when myofunctional therapy can be considered a scam, because it is misrepresented in the sales tactics, or performed to lackluster or no results. It’s always best to start with the basics. So let’s address myofunctional therapy as a treatment modality. Myofunctional therapy is like having a physical therapist or personal trainer for all the muscles below the eyes and above the shoulders. It utilizes various exercises and activities to help patients establish a proper oral resting posture.
As a myofunctional therapist, I do these exercises and activities every day with my patients. I know the process and have seen the results. Now, does that mean that I do not believe in what I do or that it is unable to facilitate the results desired? Absolutely not, however, I have seen much and taken over several failed cases.
Without any doubt, I can confidently say, in these 3 instances, myofunctional therapy does not work.
3. When done without a team
Myofunctional therapy can be an absolute life changer, especially when you are struggling with oral development, have braces or other dental appliances, or have sleep issues. However, what are the odds that you have any of the aforementioned without someone else diagnosing or treating it? Not very likely.
Adjunctive treatment is the goal of the therapy. We know we work in a team and have mutual referral systems in place. Every member of the team, be it a dentist, sleep physician, speech therapist, lactation consultant, otolaryngologist (ENT), or body worker, is aware of their role in putting together the puzzle of your health.
It is expensive to treat an airway centered disorder, so it is fair to say that some try to investigate a way around the system. Money does not grow on trees, insurance is not fair and will not cover every provider and service that you need. So you do your own searching and locate a myofunctional therapist, and place hope against hope that it does the trick.
Often that leaves much to be desired from the program. Other issues that will prevent progress in a myofunctional therapy program from being accomplished are laying bricks of compounding resistance. A hope for help that never arrives. That dental appliance you could not afford, the body worker that was too expensive, that therapist that does more than myo too costly, yet all quite necessary to get to whole.
Myofunctional therapy undoubtedly does not work when it is done as your only method of treatment. Especially if you are working with a therapist that does not have a dynamic program. Myo is a narrow therapy that needs a solid foundation of supplemental modalities, which is why most therapists worth your dollar do Buteyko, Restorative Breathing, breathwork, reflex integration, etc., to get the job done.
2. When done ONLY for frenectomy pre and post care
Active wound management, prehabilitation and rehabilitation are critical to achieving optimal tongue tie release results. Lip and buccal ties need care too, but more often than not, we see release providers send in patients to myofunctional therapy exclusively for care for the tongue tie.
A release procedure for any tethered oral tissue, no matter the age, is a surgical procedure. Albeit a minor one, but still a surgery nonetheless. If you visited your medical physician or specialist and they informed you that they were going to do an outpatient surgery on you that required physical therapy and post care instructions. The odds of you attaining optimal healing, recovery, and range of motion post surgery is significantly decreased if you skip the physical therapy.
Why are the expectations any different for a surgery in your mouth. If anything, the expectations should rise. I like the eat, drink, speak and breathe. The last thing I would want is a procedure to be done, have a handful of exercises for healing and never address residual problems that may impact my eating, speech, or breathing.
Myofunctional therapy is a full program of exercises and activities that are personalized to correct any compensatory patterns in your oral and facial musculature. This process can take either a few months to a year to complete, depending on many variables.
If you only have myofunctional therapy for your pre and post frenectomy wound management, then sadly, I must report that you did not have therapy at all. You had professional guidance and oversight for your active wound management to facilitate optimal healing. In that instance, myofunctional therapy does not work because it’s not what was done.
1. When it was not really the answer
We are not the same. Granted we are all humans, we love the same, bleed the same, and share the same basic needs. However, when it comes to health we need not forget that there are personal variables that should be accounted for. Diet, exercise, genetics, autoimmune diseases, various disorders, deficiencies, exposure to sunlight, climate, conditions… the list goes on and on with factors that impact our health.
Orofacial myofunctional disorders are not the only reason why you may be experiencing headaches, fatigue, excessive gas, grinding, reflux, neck and back pain. Take the same symptoms to anyone with a healthcare modality of treatment and they will claim something different to be the source of your issues. We have not advanced to a crystal ball diagnosis, so we as providers do the best we can.
I love myofunctional therapy, but it is not an overall wellness program. It can facilitate a method for the body to aid in it’s own maintenance and impact certain aspects of health. I have seen it make great changes in the lives of many patients. But let’s not kid ourselves, everyone makes many changes in the path to wellness.
Whether it is change around habits, lifestyle, diet, financial, work, or otherwise, it is never just myofunctional therapy alone that alters life. Similarly, we went over earlier how important it is to have other modalities and specialties to accompany myofunctional therapy. Perhaps every rock was not turned over, maybe there are factors in your body or life that are unknown contributors to your pain, posture, sleep, or poor health.
Myofunctional therapy is not the answer to everything. It is amazing, wonderful, and many times life changing, but it is never the sole thing at play in recovery.
Does it work? Absolutely. When it’s done right, so choose your providers wisely.