Relieve congestion and breathe better: Aromatherapy is your breath’s friend

Essential oils are one of the most reliable holistic health options available. There are numerous oils that have benefits that range from physical to mental health improvement.

Inhalation of the oils can be diffused, misted or used as directly inhaled to have the benefits of the oils travel through the body via the airway. Breathing, as you know, is an essential life function and plays a pivotal role in our overall health.

Nothing has been a more critical component to the success of our dynamic myofunctional therapy program then the use of aromatherapy. To establish nasal breathing the passages should be decongested and open to the natural flow of air.

At The Myo Spot, we have our own proprietary blend of oils in a nasal inhaler called the Pivotal Breathing Aromatherapy Inhaler (PBAI). We blend peppermint, eucalyptus, clary sage, bergamot, and lemon; specially blended for decongestion, anti-inflammation, and relaxation.

Peppermint oil has the most potential health benefits and is the base of the PBAI because it decongests, relaxes the muscles of the respiratory tract, and is calming. Combined with eucalyptus oil, which has similar anti-inflammatory and respiratory benefits, it boosts the aromatic effects on the airway. A clear respiratory tract is essential for nasal breathing and can only be maintained with nasal breathing. Mouth breathing will dry the oral cavity, increase bacterial presence and cause inflammation of tonsils/adenoids.

Clary sage is soothing and increases circulation, providing a calm to body and focus to the brain. Bergamot is known for its ability to relieve anxiety and improve mood. Lemon oil is versatile and PBAI utilizes it for its pleasant addition to the aroma and lymphatic drainage. When nasal congestion occurs the sinus cavities and lymphatic system fill, therefore drainage reduces mucus buildup.

In our nature, we always prioritize accessibility and affordability, so today I wish to share my personal recipe for our aromatherapy inhaler. To blend your own supply of our PBAI, you will need a bottle of each 100% essential oil: peppermint, eucalyptus, clary sage, bergamot, and lemon. Using a dropper and a glass bottle, combine 6 drops peppermint oil, 4 drops eucalyptus, and 1 drop of each of the remaining oils. Place the blend in a nasal inhalation tube or a few drops in an aromatherapy diffuser. 

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For convenience, we have our Pivotal Breathing Aromatherapy Inhalers available on Amazon for purchase.

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Whether you blend your own supply or purchase ours, it’s important that you understand the benefits and purpose of the essential oil aromatherapy. So research the efficacy of essential oils and their many uses. I’m certain you are going to discover the profound impact it will have on your breathing, sleep, mood, immunity and much more. It’s the breath’s friend, and natural benefit delivery system, you will wish you knew of sooner.

To read more information about the impact of breathing on health, click here.

The Real Reason Why You Need Braces

Braces have never been and never will be unavoidable. They are not some genetic guarantee you receive upon birth. They are merely the result of oral habits developed from birth; particularly those dealing with the tongue.

After years of braces and the last straw in lost retainers, there’s a reason why your teeth shifted. I hope you’re sitting… because the culprit is not your lost retainer it’s your tongue!

The tongue is now and will continue to reign as the MVP in oral and facial development. Never to be dethroned by any orthodontist or supplier of braces.

It’s a lot to take in. Similarly to discovering that you lived with Santa and the Tooth Fairy you’re whole childhood (i.e. they weren’t real). How is it that the tongue is so powerful that it has this profound impact on the size of the mouth, the shape of the face and the structure of your teeth?

What kind of barn is your mouth?

Imagine a simple drawing of a house without a roof. It has a simple 3-line open rectangle shape. Two lines that meet at a point would complete the roof and create a pointed top, thus creating an almost pentagonal shape. Now imagine a simple drawing of a barn with a nice rounding that completes the roof. Ideally, we want our palates to develop into a barn shape with the nice arched round roof. Our dental arches should form with a U shape.

ushapedarch

The tongue is the foundation for that development. The tongue should naturally sit up along the palate when we are optimally nasal breathing. The constant pressure of the tongue on the arch facilitates growth around the tongue into that perfect U shape.

Our tongue in that sense is the blueprint for palatal development and should fit in the palate without overlapping the teeth.

When the tongue is low in the mouth, we lose the foundation, and like the open rectangle house, without that round support the palate forms a narrow and almost pointed “roof” shape. It would create an A shape, narrow arch with a high palatal vault. This narrows the available space for the teeth and causes dental crowding and often malocclusion. Ashapedarch

The mandible (lower arch) follows the growth of the maxilla (upper arch). So the growth, or lack thereof, in the palate will be matched, in most cases, by the mandible. Those with underbites, or a wider mandible that contains the maxilla (either in part or fully), often have a tongue that is lying low. The pressure from the tongue on the mandible, along with prolonged spacing between the teeth, cause the mandible to extend and restricts the growth of the maxilla further.

Crowding is not new

A narrow arch does not develop overnight. A high palate (roof of the mouth) and tight primary dentition (baby teeth) can predict the formation of a narrow arch and crowding of permanent teeth.

Typically a pediatric dentist may inform you that your child will need braces in the future. However, an orthodontist that is not trained in early intervention orthodontics will most likely not treat this until the child has developed around 12 permanent teeth. Treatment usually involves a palate expander that forcibly pushes the palate open, ideally, to the width it should have grown.

Retention is maintained by a retainer. When teeth “shift back” to some form of malocclusion it is often because the tongue has not maintained that palatal width with the pressure we discussed earlier. Our teeth are in constant motion and with a lack of stability from the tongue, they will gravitate to their position of origin. Granted, if expansion was done, the teeth do not shift back to origination. But they will move out of the alignment established with braces.

TMJ pain that’s hard to swallow

A low tongue posture is often accompanied by a “reverse swallow.” This improper swallow occurs when the tongue thrusts forward either against the teeth or between them to swallow. Every thrust forward causes the mandible to shift backward and compress the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in an unnatural way. Multiple cases of this pressure will compound and affects the longevity and stability of the TMJ. Thus feelings of pain, clicking, and popping occur and cause frustration.

retruded mand

The reverse swallow also creates a long narrow face with a mandible that is recessed or retruded. In profile, this would appear as a lower lip that is not aligned with the upper lip. Even in people whose teeth appear straight, this form of a malocclusion does require braces as well. Over time the way the teeth occlude, or bite together, would cause undue harm to the jaw and discomfort during chewing.

What to do

Establishing proper tongue posture with good habits, early intervention, or myofunctional therapy leads to proper oral development in young children. However, it is never too late to attain proper tongue posture to improve wellness. A wide palate means a wide nasal floor with open passages and greater airway space. Ultimately reducing and/or eliminating the potential for sleep apnea, chronic infections, anxiety, asthma and more.

Contact me to find out how myofunctional therapy can help you with your braces or read our introduction to airway post to discover the many paths to airway health.

Why did my doctor recommend myofunctional therapy?

I guess you thought you were in for a simple visit. A routine visit with a simple diagnosis or the always preferred, confirmation of health. Thankfully, you have an excellent doctor who cares about your whole body and sent you on a wellness path!

There are several reasons why you may have been referred to myofunctional therapy, and several types of providers who do refer.

Who may have sent you and why

Speech Language Pathologist (speech therapist) – refer for speech problems that are not improving due to a tongue tie or tongue thrust. Common referrals include lisps and difficulty with S, L, T, D and N sounds. (*myofunctional therapists that are NOT speech therapists do not treat the speech problem, they treat the tongue posture and speech improves in conjunction with continued treatment with the speech therapist)

Otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors)– refer in conjunction with a dentist in their airway team. Typically for those with high narrow dental arches, chronically inflamed tonsils or adenoids, and/or a deviated septum.

Dentists or Orthodontists – refer for tongue thrust, open bite, malocclusion, thumb sucking, high palate (roof of the mouth), narrow arches, mouth breathing, and most commonly in conjunction with braces or oral appliance.

Sleep Physicians – refer for mild sleep apnea and CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) compliance.

If you do myofunctional therapy…

There is far more to gain from myo then what you may have been referred for. Often times problems you had no idea were associated, can be caused by an orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD).

The body is one large connected unit with many functioning parts. When there is dysfunction in a muscle, often it leads to the body creating a compensatory use of another muscle to perform the task. For example, when you have a reverse swallow it can cause overdevelopment of your mentalis muscle and alter facial appearance.

OMDs can contribute to numerous problems as can be seen below in the infographic. Myofunctional therapy may be the answer you never knew you needed to problems your healthcare provider referred you for, in addition to other underlying issues.

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Still unsure where to go on this airway health journey? Read start with this beginner’s guide.

Contact us to get started with myofunctional therapy today!

Don’t overlook this essential health component

I know what you’re thinking. The internet is full of health and wellness advice and there is no possible way that you have missed anything in your journey to health and wellness. In fact, your custom meal delivery box sets, personal trainer, physician, nutritionist or app have encompassed anything that could possibly be involved…right?

WRONG!

The missing link lies in something you do about 15 times per minute.

Breathing. The quintessential health component that can make or break your wellness.

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Why is it important?

Breathing is a critical component to our existence. Not only does improper physiological breathing impact your oral development, airway structure, and oral health, it also impacts mental health, sleep digestion, and blood pressure.

Breathing is not as simple as being alive or not. Nasal breathing is not only the proper way to inhale and exhale air, it also filters and moistures the air. Which optimizes it for use in the body.

As a child, this may manifest in asthma, anxiety, need for braces, snoring, sleep problems, lack of focus, nail-biting, wheezing, frequent congestion, and chronic seasonal allergies. As an adult, this may result in TMJ (or jaw) pain, sleep apnea, anxiety, braces relapse, high blood pressure, poor posture, headaches, and chronic fatigue.

What to do

Are you breathing correctly? Try our 1-minute breath test to self-evaluate whether you’re breathing is helping or hurting you.

Reach out to a myofunctional therapist. Myofunctional therapy is like having a personal trainer for all the muscles of your face and mouth. A change in your tongue posture can improve your breathing and impact your health.

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Check out You’re Breathing Wrong, the complete myofunctional therapy journal to get started on the path to better wellness today!

 

Why You Haven’t Heard of Myofunctional Therapy

Whether you are new to this blog or a frequent reader, I think it is safe to say I make my love for myofunctional therapy known. It has impacted my personal life and changed the health of my home.

It’s been around for nearly a century with current research linking it to improvements in speech, sleep, CPAP acceptance, breathing and orthodontic retention.

Why then does it seem like it has a cult like following with most people clueless about it’s existence?

Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. It’s not taught in most medical and dental schools

You will get the best of your physician or pediatrician if you ask them to explain myofunctional therapy. They have never heard of it and probably have very little desire to research it. In medical school they spent years digesting all the knowledge needed to practice medicine and then did a residency for a couple more years to get more experience. If in all of that time they were never exposed to myofunctional therapy, then it’s a lost cause gaining acceptance for it now. Plain and simple.

For most specialists it can be considered outside of the scope of practice to look at airway or oral features. When the doctor asks you to say ahh, it is to do a quick exam of your tonsils; not to evaluate the size of the oral cavity and speculate on a narrow airway. Those things are for dentists and otolarygnologists (otherwise known as ear, nose and throat doctors). Referral is the closest you may get to physician confirmation of an airway problem.

Which leads us to dental schools. A strong wind of change is on the horizon and many leading organizations in airway focused dentistry are encouraging changes in the curriculum. So, dentistry (which is always at the forefront of prevention) will be turning a tide in the number of informed practitioners. However, those in practice for a long time are often resistant to change or discouraged by the previous rise and fall in myofunctional popularity.

2. The field is currently expanding

Myofunctional therapy as a field of practice is growing at a fast pace now than it has ever! Which is exciting, however, as the field grows there is more effort on teaching within the field to fellow practitioners than to growing public awareness.

Leading organizations are posting more information about professional courses, events and new members than education and resources. To gather all the information needed to make an informed public, you would need to compile every individual myofunctional therapy practices blog and social posts.

You can’t learn about what is not made public.

3. Media has not caught on

Myofunctional therapy is amazing, but it sounds boring and expensive. Tongue exercises is an easier sell. You probably read or saw something in a major media outlet about the impact tongue exercises have on reducing snoring. Well, that’s essentially myofunctional therapy improving tongue posture for better nasal breathing, which in turn, decreases or eliminates snoring.

Media is not in the information business, they are in the consumption business. They do not profit by sharing information, rather, they profit by the consumption of their information. So sensational will always win. Myofunctional therapy will need more public awareness before it ever gets covered.

4. It’s often the “throwaway” treatment

Airway focused dentists and orthodontists are very aware of myofunctional therapy and the benefits it has on their appliance’s effectiveness. However, when you have patients on a budget that you finally got to accept appliance treatment, it’s hard to convince them to also do the adjunctive stuff.

Bodywork and myofunctional therapy are often jointly presented in a treatment plan. Very few offices have all in office, so referrals are often given. Yet, when budgets are considered and the patient stretched thin on thousands of dollars of orthodontic work, myo gets the boot. And people don’t talk about the wonderful therapy they heard about but couldn’t afford.

It’s one of the main reasons we diversify our treatment to allow for self-therapy options in books and courses, in addition to our full suite of traditional therapy.

5. It’s associated with dentistry

By far the most distinctive reason you have never heard of myofunctional therapy is that it is associated with dentistry. Most people hate the dentist and avoid it like the plague. When dealing with highly anxious patients or people who start conversations about how much they hate you, it’s easy to bypass anything other than a fast positive experience.

Your best bet for hearing about myofunctional therapy is at the dental office. If you avoid it, you’ll miss myofunctional therapy entirely.

 

So break the stigma and share the wealth. It’s the best treatment you have never heard of for many of the things people suffer from.

For more about the benefits of myofunctional therapy check out our website.

Do You Need Myofunctional Therapy: The Definitive Assessments

The frequent congestion, ear/throat infections, poor sleep, tongue thrust and mouth-breathing has become intolerable. Your dental or medical professional has informed you about myofunctional therapy as a treatment to provide you with some relief…now what?

I’ve been there. You just heard about this random therapy that seems to have come out of nowhere, your head is spinning and you want a second opinion. Absolutely something to Google away your concerns…OR…you could use this definitive assessment to verify need and validate your concerns.

Three simple key points can definitively pinpoint if you need myofunctional therapy:

  1. 3 A’s of Airway Obstruction
  2. The 1 Minute Breath Test
  3. Airway Assessment

The completion of all 3 will give you the best answer, but for those short on time, a quick result from one points you in the right direction.

The 3 A’s of Airway Obstruction

An obstructed or narrow airway has many consequences. Breathing is essential and any obstacle along the track is detrimental to our mental and physical health. Most frequently people suffering from a narrow airway will experience one of three symptoms.

  1. Asthma
  2. Anxiety
  3. Allergies

Asthma and asthma-like symptoms are directly attached to the airway. Modern medicine would typically treat the wheezing and attacks with medication or palliative treatment. However, many people have treated their asthma with a combination of myofunctional therapy and dental appliances. Widening of the dental arches in conjunction with nasal breathing has brought relief to many suffering with asthma-like symptoms.

Anxiety has long been linked to breathing and meditation. An oxygenated body is a calm body. Mouth-breathing impairs the quality of the oxygen your body receives and often establishes an environment that narrows the airway. Nasal breathing allows air to be filtered and humidified prior to reaching the lungs. Many anxiety suffers have benefited from reduced or sometimes eliminated attacks through learning proper breathing.

Allergies plague many of us and it seems that the number of allergens are rising rapidly. Congestion, sinus inflammation and post nasal drip that occurs from seasonal and environmental allergies are sometimes incorrectly associated with allergies. Those often are a result of a narrowed airway. Especially in the cases where the sufferer experiences year-long “allergies.”

If you experience any of the 3 A’s of airway obstruction, you may be a great candidate for myofunctional therapy.

The 1-Minute Breath Test

Probably the easiest way to determine myofunctional therapy necessity is to take our 1-minute breath test.

Sit upright in a chair with your feet flat against the floor and take in a deep breath. Notice your mouth during the breath and repeat if necessary. Were your lips sealed? Where was your tongue positioned? Did you feel the breath in your chest?

Repeat the breath, but this time place your tongue up against the roof of the mouth, then inhale and exhale exclusively through the nose. Compare the two breaths.

If your first breath felt more labored than the second, then You’re Breathing Wrong. (<- Couldn’t resist that shameless plug)

In your first breath you may have used your mouth, had your tongue pressed against your teeth, possibly on the floor of the mouth, or breathed with your chest. Any one of those during frequent breathing is incorrect. Myofunctional therapy would be of the most benefit to you.

Our Airway Assessment

Sometimes nothing is better than seeing it all on paper. Our airway assessment has a myriad of common symptoms associated with a dysfunctional airway. It’s simple and free. Download and print your copy to see how many symptoms you experience that you may not have even known were linked.

I recommend myofunctional therapy for anyone who scores a 9 or greater.

Now what?

If you did all three and need more information before proceeding with myofunctional therapy check out our resourceful blog full of all the next steps to take once an airway problem is identified.

For those brave few who are ready to take the next step, visit The Myo Spot online to choose one of the various ways to get myofunctional therapy treatment as soon as today!

Become a Progressive Airway Health Provider

Why exactly would the average medical/dental provider decide to become progressive and delve into the world of airway disorders and sleep-disordered breathing?

My Experience Should Form Your Why

I remember sitting in the narrow room with the walls that were not bright enough to be yellow and too dark for white. While poking around in my daughter’s mouth a quiet murmur of “tongue tie” escaped the dentist’s lips. She made no eye contact and fiddled with the explorer. I never considered tongue tie a possibility and despite my dental hygiene education and experience had no idea what it meant for her.

Distracted, I asked, “does she have any cavities?” (I’ll share with you in another blog how much I despise this question)

“No,” she started. What came beyond that casual “no” wrapped me up tightly and launched me into a world I never knew existed. She explained the connections and asked me several questions about topics that ranged from her nursing as a baby to her current eating and sleeping habits.

She was an incredibly slow eater, very picky, frequently congested, almost always had her mouth open and her teeth were crowded (her maxillary canines blocked out entirely before she even reached age 7).

There were no distinct sleep issues, but I did have another older daughter who for 9 years wet the bed every night without fail, had episodes of night terrors and sleepwalking, and would not stop sucking her thumb. Did she have a tongue tie as well? And what about my son with ADHD who also mouthbreathes? Or my youngest daughter who did not nurse much past the first 3 months and was attached to her pacifier?

Just as I began a high-speed race in my mind, she asked if she could take some x-rays of her. A cephalometric which would give us a basic view of her airway and display any obstructions such as the tonsils or adenoids. If it looked obstructed, then a CBCT (dental cone beam computed tomography) would give us a much more detailed look. We needed both films and sure as the sun would rise the next morning, she had a narrow airway with enlarged adenoids and tonsils.

I am an emotional person, and despite my brain informing my heart that I am a good mother, my eyes sided with my heart and released a wave of liquid emotion. Of course, not until I reached my car. In the sacred space of that SUV came every emotion that comes with learning that your 7-year-old has struggled to breathe her entire life. Every sensitivity that is amplified in her, the anxiety, the inability to take bitewing radiographs, the slow painful meals, the picky eating, the snoring, the room it felt like we owned at the pediatrician’s office…it all came down to this.

How did every single person I had my daughter around not realize this? The pediatrician that made her say “AH,” and looked right past it. The dentists I worked for in private practice, worked with in corporate dentistry and under in dental school. Not one had ever mentioned that there is something I could and should be looking into to address these issues. Not for her, or for any of my other children.

Betrayal. That’s the only word to describe that feeling. The resentment only grew as I had my other children checked and tested. And as I began educating myself to become a future member of the airway interdisciplinary team, I couldn’t help by wonder how the average medical/dental provider would not decide to become progressive and delve into the world of airway disorders and sleep-disordered breathing?

The average provider would not. However, an exceptional provider would grasp at any opportunity to advance their education and improve their level of patient service. I am not only eternally grateful to the dentist who had uncovered my children’s true selves, I only recommend and continue to see providers who work with the entire patient and not just the part of the patient that relates to their limited interest.

How can you establish profound patient care?

If you are an intrigued provider whose limitless curiosity results in profound patient treatment and care then you should pursue the following steps to begin your journey into becoming a progressive airway disorder provider:

  • Immerse yourself in the wealth of information available. My personal suggested book reading list can be found on Pinterest. Each book will provide you with a solid background of the connections and implications of airway dysfunction on sleep and health. Utilize journal search engines to read peer-reviewed articles and research on topics with keywords such as myofunctional therapy, tongue thrust, mouthbreathing, nitric oxide, ferritin, or sleep apnea in autism and ADHD.
  • Get yourself invested in available continuing education; Airway Focused Dentistry is a great resource with a respected team at the helm. Do a mini-residency in an appliance such as Myobrace, A.L.F. or Healthy Start (Orthotain). Attend a tethered oral tissue seminar (TOTs). The latter being incredibly important if you are a member of the medical community.
  • Start screening patients. For a simple guide to help you discern which patients you are looking to refer out or treat in the future check out our free guide.
  • Make connections. Talk to other providers that you already have connections with. Are they currently a progressive airway health provider? What information can you learn from them and/or share with them? If you have social media accounts start to follow the leaders in airway and sleep disorders. They post informative articles and research as well as educational bits for the general public.

Our website also offers articles and research links that can contribute to your journey. As a member of the interdisciplinary team, I look forward to you upgrading your education and practice by coming into the airway health world. Personally, I anxiously await the day that every parent is given the opportunity to intervene and offer their child positive growth and health. Alternatively, I hope you never fall on the negative end of that feeling of betrayal.