5 Things You Need To Know Before Starting Myofunctional Therapy And Everything I Wish I Knew

Ready to take your breathing and health in a new positive direction? Myofunctional therapy may very well provide you with relief from the negative manifestations of sleep disordered breathing and airway centered disorders.

As a parent of four children who did myofunctional therapy as an adjunctive natural treatment method for ADHD, sleep disorders, dental crowding, frequent congestion, and poor eating habits, AND as a practicing therapist, I have clear knowledge of the process. This is everything I wish I knew and everything you need to know before you begin myofunctional therapy.

It is a commitment

Myofunctional therapy is like having a personal trainer for all the muscles below the eyes and above the shoulders. They work to strengthen and coordinate those orofacial and oropharyngeal muscles for proper oral resting posture. This is accomplished through learning various exercises and activities on a regular basis until new neuromuscular patterning has occurred and habituation is established.

Whether the therapy is for you or for a child, remain conscious of the fact that therapy is designed to retrain the habits you have established from at or shortly after birth. Years of poor habits must be relearned and adjusted. You will be required to go home and practice your exercises daily. Eventually, exercises evolve into daily life integration and you must actively monitor your orofacial muscle movements and coordination while you perform daily tasks.

Myofunctional therapy involves much more than the time you have to spend actively working with the therapist weekly or bi-weekly, it requires daily commitment.

It is varied

No two therapists will work the same type of program. The field of myofunctional therapy is continually growing and evolving. Often times therapists share case successes, failures, and struggles to learn from each other. The programs that are taught are not yet regulated to be exactly the same. Which is to the benefit of the patients. It requires a therapist to seek out further education and courses, as well as expose them to a basic fact: people are different.

What would work best for you in a myofunctional therapy program is not what would work best for another person. You may present with specific problems or concerns that require certain exercises and the elimination of others. It is imperative that you speak and consult with a few myofunctional therapists to determine who would work best for your concerns.

It is collaborative

While myofunctional therapy is a great natural treatment for a myriad of eating, breathing, and sleeping issues, it hardly ever is the only treatment used. A team of medical and dental professionals often will work together to accomplish your health goals. Often your myofunctional therapist will have various methodologies they use to increase efficiency or enable goals to be accomplished within their program. Expect to need more than just myofunctional therapy and plan accordingly.

It changes your appearance

Strengthening and coordinating proper orofacial muscle movement will improve your facial appearance. The cheeks become less flaccid, the palate becomes wider, the lips strengthen, the teeth shift, and the posture improves. You may notice more physical changes in your pain levels, daily energy, health, and sleep in addition to your appearance. Photographs are usually taken at the beginning of treatment to be compared to the final visit.

Changes are slow and usually difficult to see as you progress through the program. You see yourself daily and gradual results are hard to observe. Do not be surprised to see a new you in the treatment photographs.

It can not be short-cutted

The internet is an amazing and destructive thing. We are offered ample opportunities to seek out information and fulfill needs rapidly. Because myofunctional therapy is a collaborative effort, it often is not done when other traditional medical and dental treatments are draining the budget. The internet has filled the void for everything you need to be done and can not afford.

When it comes to health, there are no shortcuts. Youtube videos are available that have a few or even a series of myofunctional therapy exercises. Many people assume that it can be done through videos alone. The problem with that theory is it disregards coordination and habituation. What specific exercises will address your concerns? What order do the exercises follow to establish new patterning? How do you tackle roadblocks for exercises you are unable to perform? Can you determine whether you are performing exercises with the isolation of the muscles involved in that process?

There are many questions that someone without training would be unable to answer. There are some questions that even some therapists with training are unable to answer. The only way to guarantee results and optimal care is to work with a therapist. Alternatives exist when the budget has little to no wiggle room.

 

I personally struggled initially trying to treat my four children on a budget.  Heed my advice and learn from my mistakes. The path to this natural treatment method is paved with dedication, variation, collaboration, change, and no shortcuts.

How much does myofunctional therapy cost?

Myofunctional therapy is like having a personal trainer for the muscles below your eyes until above your shoulders. The strengthening of your orofacial and oropharyngeal muscles helps facilitate proper breathing, chewing, and swallowing. It also helps with bad habits like thumbsucking, nail-biting, and tongue thrusting.

A perfect natural health solution to frequent congestion, asthma, sleep apnea, speech problems, tongue thrust, snoring, chronic ear infections, and many more. In fact, there are roughly 25 health benefits of myofunctional therapy.

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This natural and scientific therapeutic method is ideal to reach health goals that may have seemed unattainable. But at what cost?

Treatment

Traditionally, myofunctional therapy takes place in a one on one setting with a therapist teaching a personalized set of exercises and activities over a period of months. You meet either weekly or bi-weekly and continue to build upon skill sets during the course of treatment until you have reached habituation.

Traditional therapy ranges in price based on your therapist and location. Sessions can be charged per visit or as a part of a program fee.

Individual session fee range  $100 – $250 each

Program fee range $1,500 – $3,000

Modern therapy has evolved to include the addition of technology. Tele-therapy is now an option that many therapists are incorporating into their practices to treat patients conveniently from the comfort of their homes. Some practices have even incorporated a hybrid system into their treatment where you have some in-person sessions and some virtual. As with most technological advances, this can dramatically reduce your cost for a full program fee. However, individual sessions are still in the same range as traditional therapy.

Program fee range $700 – $2,500

Alternatives

If those numbers seemed unrealistic for your budget there are alternatives. While addressing the Airway Centered Disorders (ACD) that are often involved in the health problems listed in the graphic above are important, treatment is not limited to those with significant disposable income.

The Myo Spot was founded on the principle that myofunctional therapy is an essential therapeutic service that should be accessible and affordable. As a mother of four children, all of which had various manifestations of an airway centered disorder, second only to treatment being effective, affordability was a top priority upon establishing my practice. Traditional and modern therapy are both utilized and improved, with fees either starting below or on the lower scale of typical practice fees.

TMS program fee range $950 – $2,100

My dynamic myofunctional therapy that incorporates Reiki, VoiceGym, Restorative Breathing Method, affirmations and breathwork, has been combined into the highly effective Pivotal Breathing Method. Not only can you utilize teletherapy to receive professional myofunctional therapy treatments at home, but you can also use a professionally crafted therapy program to treat yourself. We offer two books that have a FULL program that leads you page by page to results similar to one-on-one treatment.

 

 

Myofunctional Therapy Made Better is an e-book available on Amazon with a 21-day guided program. You’re Breathing Wrong is a physical paperback journal available on Amazon with a 10-week guided program.

Self-guided books $2.99 – $23.95

Important Considerations

If you know you need myofunctional therapy and are unsure of which treatment options are best for you, consider these 3 things:

  1. Your learning style
  2. Your goals
  3. Your budget

Those who suffer from sensory issues or have difficulty learning without physical direction should not consider any myofunctional therapy program that involves teletherapy. Similarly, your goals should be attainable by your myofunctional therapist. Someone who desires specific relief from TMJ pain, sleep apnea, or tongue tie release, should work one-on-one with a therapist in lieu of self-treatment.

Finally, the budget you have available to address all of your needs when treating ACD, is an essential consideration. A team approach is often required and if your budget is tight, consider working with one member of the team at a time if applicable, or delaying treatment while you save. Or consider working with providers that are focused on affordable treatment options within their practice.

Regardless of which methods or providers you choose, ensure you make the decision to seek treatment you need in a manner that serves you and your budget appropriately.

My kids were ignored, heed my warning: Don’t let doctors ignore yours

It took 10 years and a pediatric dentist for me to realize that I was a terrible mother. I fell into the trap of taking the pediatrician at her word. She said they would grow out of these problems, she advised medication for years before I regretfully succumbed, and she said it was all normal.

I’ll admit I started out motherhood at a deficit. I was just shy of 19 years old when I had him and 21 when I had her.

I tried desperately to breastfeed him as an infant, but his birth was fast and my recovery complicated, so we settled for bottle feeding. He was the perfect baby for the first 6 months. Most of the day was eating and sleeping with occasional quiet playtime. The moment we crossed over 6 months was a turn for his health. We battled stomach viruses that seemed to come one after the other, and sleeping became an issue so we co-slept. Which meant he slept while I dealt with blows from kicking and rolling all night.

He turned 2 and one month later he was a big brother. I resented her for coming into our lives and disrupting the time and attention I had for him. Looking back, I know I had postpartum because resent was a mild way of putting it.

With her, I didn’t want to go through the health struggles he has, so we were successful at breastfeeding. Almost without much effort from me. The only vice she had was thumb sucking. Though, admittedly, I was initially thankful for that, as he dropped his pacifier often and I knew I wouldn’t have to deal with her dropping her thumb on the floor of a retail store and wanting to place it back in.

By the time she hit 6 months, she was a loved and well-accepted member of our trio. However, we ceased being a trio by the time she was 3. I met my husband and we made 3 a full family of five.

fam

Insert chaos. He became a kindergartner, she stopped being potty trained and the baby girl S was an around the clock breast-feeder. The baby seemed to never be satiated, was particularly fussy, and had very poor sleep habits.

From kindergarten, teachers told me that they suspected he had issues. He was particularly “energetic” and difficult to “focus.” The pediatrician thought the teachers were too eager to label him with ADHD. At those appointments, I also mentioned that she, at age 3 then, would not sleep through the night, routinely wet the bed, and has numerous accidents during the day. The pediatrician wrote that off too as regression due to baby S.

Acceptable. I could and would wait it out. Only many of those problems never went away. Breastfeeding never got better and ended before I was ready due to a lack of supply. Sleep and fussiness was a consistent problem. He continued to struggle with attention as he moved up in grades.

By the time he was in 5th grade, we expanded from a group of 5 to 6 and we finally succumbed to the inevitable neurology evaluation.kids

All the while, his stomach issues persisted, she continued to amplify her sleep issues with daily bed-wetting, night terrors, and sleepwalking. Baby S, surprisingly thrived as a big sister with no signs of regression but suffered from repeated ear and throat infections. Baby L, struggled with breastfeeding and after two bouts of mastitis, we called it quits. My home was full of love but swimming in health issues. All of which were deemed “normal” and to be outgrown.

His ADHD was officially diagnosed, and after two years of resisting medication, we gave in. The girls maintained sleep issues and cycles of antibiotics for routine infections. I was the mom that would respond with a generic, “good,” when asked how the kids were.

But they weren’t good, I knew it. Motherhood is many things, but devoid of intuition it is not. I wanted help and often Googled in search of it, but nothing helped. How could I stop medicating my kids, buying night diapers for her at 10 years old, and suffering in silence?

The dentist. All I needed was a great dentist. I began working for one and in the interview, she went over airway dentistry in great length and insisted that if I wanted the job I needed to be knowledgeable and an advocate of it. I understood mildly at that moment what it meant, but it wasn’t until my kids were in the chair not long after that I fully comprehended Airway Centered Disorder (ACD).

Every single one of them had issues all directly related to their breathing. His ADHD and digestion problems, her sleep issues and persistent thumb sucking, and S & L’s ear and throat infections and nursing problems. It was always present in their facial features, oral development, and sleep habits. Just never diagnosed.

The restless sleep with tossing and turning at night. The open mouths with a tongue that would rest in between the lips. The dark circles under the eyes and chubby cheeks. The crowded teeth and thumbsucking. The hyperactivity and inability to focus. All of it tells a story of a child with an ACD.

All of it missed by the pediatrician who routinely saw my family for various issues. Yet, all I ever received, in hindsight, was palliative care that kept symptoms down for a little while or no care because they would outgrow the sleep problems.

If the medical field was aware of what so many in the dental field are coming to understand, my children would not have been ignored. S & L would have received tongue tie releases during infancy. He and she would have had a sleep study as toddlers and received treatment for their apnea.

I dove deep into myofunctional therapy, dental appliances, alternative therapies, the impact of diet, and ACD. Parent to parent, after over $10K in continuing education, I know now where I went wrong and I do NOT want you to repeat my mistakes.

4 Steps to Getting Help for Airway Centered Disorder

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1. Monitor everything

How often is your child sick with a routine cold, allergies, or even asthma? How do they sleep at night? Do they mouth breathe? Do you see their tongue frequently when they talk? Are they very picky eaters, have a strong gag reflex, chew loud or messy, eat very fast, or very slow? Do they maintain dark circles under their eyes or baby like chubby cheeks?

To a certain extent, some of these things are okay when seen infrequently. Having an ear or throat infection once or twice a year with the change of seasons is not something to worry over. But having chronic infections is a concern. Note exactly what you experience with your child because it will be important when you are in front of a medical or dental professional.

2. Insist on screenings

While not right, you may experience push-back from your pediatrician or possibly dentist. Not everyone is trained in ACD and it’s impact on the growing child. Inform your pediatrician that you would like a referral to a sleep physician. Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor (ENT) referrals are usually best after a sleep study because it calls the notoriously underpaid ENT to action. Sleep apnea can be fatal in adults and is detrimental to child development, growth, and health. Your child with swollen tonsils or adenoids that prevent nasal breathing can be easily dismissed by an ENT. You should be armed with a sleep study or at least the knowledge that your child does not need further intervention in the medical field.

A diagnosis of no sleep apnea is great, but if you see other signs that your child has an ACD consult with a myofunctional therapist. We treat mouth breathing by establishing proper oral resting habits through exercises and activities.

3. Do your research

Knowledge is power. You cannot change the past and all the things you did not know, but you can impact the future. Establish a strong foundation of research on the impact of ACD on health and development.

Foundation for Airway Health, American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry, and this Airway Matters blog are all excellent resources to start your journey.

I did a Breathe for Health webinar that breaks down myofunctional therapy and how it can positively impact the effects of ACD. In 45 minutes you come to understand the signs and symptoms and the 3 step process of treatment.

4. Establish your team

Treating an ACD is hardly ever just a one-stop solution. A team can consist of a dentist and a bodyworker. A dentist and an ENT. A sleep physician and myofunctional therapist. A lactation consultant and an ENT. A speech therapist and dentist. There are a number of options and sometimes more than two providers are essential for successful treatment. Know how to proceed once you determine that there is a problem.

Stand your ground

As a parent, there are many different things people will tell you about your child. Your instincts trump it all. You know when something is not right, or feels off. Don’t be passive with their health and accept palliative care, like I did. Take a stand for them and positively impact their health for their lifetime.

Resources

Find journal articles, professional research, peer-reviewed studies and clinical evidence all compiled in one source that support the existence and clinical treatment of ACD here.

If you are a mother of small children or babies, you can intervene early to minimize or eliminate treatment in the future. Read our e-guide Avoid Braces Naturally.

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Myofunctional Therapy Works: Here’s the proof

There’s much info out there about airway and myofunctional therapy. However, very few compilations of current research and evidence are available for public consumption. Below are journal articles, peer-reviewed studies, clinical evidence and current research for all things airway for your convenience.

Facial soft tissues in mouth breathing children

Forward head posture and mouth breathing

Oral and pharyngeal reflexes: the important role of the tongue

Influence of myofunctional therapy on palatal expansion

Orthodontic relapse without myofunctional therapy

TMD and myofunctional therapy for treatment

The effectiveness of myofunctional therapy on malocclusion

Myofunctional therapy to treat sleep apnea

Myofunctional therapy for severe sleep apnea

Myofunctional therapy as treatment in pediatric sleep apnea

Relationship of snoring and sleep disorders with ADHD

A review of ADHD and sleep

Daytime sleepiness in children with ADHD

Importance of mandibular advancement in sleep apnea treatment / Surgical advancement in treatment of sleep apnea treatment

Tongue tie release as treatment in sleep apnea

Pediatric tongue tie and sleep apnea

Myofunctional therapy and speech

Importance of myofunctional therapy before and after tongue tie release

Adverse affects of mouth breathing on facial growth, health, academics and behavior

Effects of open mouth on sleep

Mouth breathing in allergic children

Myofunctional therapy and CPAP acceptance

Sleep apnea from childhood to old age

 

This list will be continually updated as new research is released

Book List

A comprehensive grouping of airway focused reading can be found on our Pintrest page.

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.

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!