Orofacial Myofunctional Exercises
Orafacial Myofunctional exercises are designed to help strengthen the extrinsic and intrinsic muscles of the check and tongue, including those around the mouth and lips. Specific tongue exercises will improve how a person can swallow with the end goal being to train the tongue to move upwards in a wave-like motion, connecting with the palate, while keeping the tip of the tongue just behind the incisive papilla – a projection on the palate near the incisors.
Orofacial Myofunctional practitioners use different variations of an exercise where a person places a small item at the tip of the tongue and holds it to a specific area in the mouth to achieve this. This exercise strengthens the body and base of the tongue promoting correct tongue posture. Poor posture can cause cheeks and mouth to “suck in”, fish lips, and the tongue to be forced against or between the front teeth.
Other tongue treatments to strengthen and improve posture should include range of motion exercises. Stick out the tongue as far as possible in all directions; left, right, up and down. This specific tongue exercise helps form and move the chewed food from all areas of the mouth to the throat. To help build strength, repeatedly hold the tip of the tongue firmly on the palate for a period of time. As with any strength building practice ongoing repetition is crucial to the success of myofunctional therapy.
Perioral muscles are the muscles that surround the opening of the mouth. If underutilized they can cause open mouth posture or incomplete lip seal. These are issues where the lip and oral muscles need to be strengthened and/or retrained. Myofunctional therapy for people with compromised perioral muscles should include patient education, retraining how to breath, bite and chewing exercises, muscle massage, and resistance exercises.
With myofunctional therapy, a person can regain the joy of eating, speaking, breathing, and even sleeping more soundly. Cosmetic improvements can help restore confidence and self-esteem. Sandraluz Gonzalez is a registered Dental Hygienist, and a certified orofacial myofunctional therapist practicing in the greater Albuquerque area. She believes that everyone deserves to be educated about myofunctional disorders and treated successfully. She endeavors to increase awareness of OMT amongst the medical, dental, and academic communities to support the acceptance and progress of this profession world-wide. For more information or to set up your appointment call (505) 218-6565.