Bringing Your Body into Balance with Myofunctional Therapy
 
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   Mind     Body     Mouth

Issue #8, April 2017

Bringing Your Body into Balance with Myofunctional Therapy

 
Nearly 80 years ago, the great dental researcher Dr. Weston Price powerfully showed how diet shapes the way your teeth, mouth, and face develop. Traditional diets meant full, beautiful, healthy smiles. Once a modern Western diet was introduced, with its white flour and added sugars, the result was crowded, crooked teeth, and a host of dental problems – in less than a single generation.
 displaying teeth      
When the mouth and teeth are kept from their full and proper development, it’s not just the mouth that suffers. An “impaired mouth,” as biological dentist Dr. Felix Liao has named the phenomenon, can lead to a long chain of interrelated systemic health problems, from allergies and depression to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, chronic pain, and more.
 
Diet’s impact on orofacial development begins before birth and influences postpartum and life-long development. The sucking motions involved in breastfeeding help lay the foundation for a healthy, fully formed mouth.

Children who are exclusively bottle fed or who can’t suckle effectively due to tongue-tie or lip-tie often wind up learning to use their mouth and face muscles incorrectly – for instance, breathing through their mouth instead of their nose or developing a tongue thrust, which lends itself to habits such as tongue-biting or cheek-chewing.


 
These kinds of parafunctional habits – using a particular body part in a way for which it was never designed – can further throw the body out of balance. TMJ disorders and other pain problems are common. Research has suggested connections between certain parafunctional disorders and ADHD, allergies, and other conditions.
         
The solution? Replace the parafunctional habits with good ones that retrain the muscles of the face to work as they were designed to work.
 
mouth showing tongue and airwayThis is the focus of myofunctional therapy – a type of physical therapy that focuses on teaching the muscles of the mouth and face how to work correctly and efficiently. Over the years, it’s been shown to help with speech problems, teeth grinding/bruxing, snoring, tongue-tie, TMJ problems, digestive issues, and more.

Issues with forward head posture and back and neck pain can also be improved as we address the function of the orofacial muscles and properly stabilize the structures of the mouth.
 
One area we specialize in is releasing tongue-ties and improving the ability for the tongue to restore its proper function. When a tongue-tie is present, it pulls the head forward.
 
And while “myo” works at any age, it’s especially powerful during the growing years, from 2 to 8, while the mouth and head structures are still developing and can be easily guided towards balanced and harmonious facial development.

At this age, good facial development can lead to good dental development, often reducing the need for braces.
 
Consider, too: Braces only move the teeth. They don’t address the underlying dysfunction. (That’s why 90% of all ortho cases relapse!) With myo, we’re looking at the total body: How do the airway, muscles, joints, teeth, fascia, and nerves support each other and work together for proper function and stability?
 
Myofunctional therapy = restoring proper function of muscles/habits = proper development = room for teeth to come in straight
 
Working with a trained therapist over the course of several months and doing the recommended exercises to retrain the orofacial muscles, you can get them working the way nature intended – and pave the way for a lifetime of good health.
 
Good things happen when the body the allowed to work as it was naturally designed to work.

 
Tongue image by gabymichel, via Wikimedia Commons
Seattle Magazine cover

Meet Our Newest Team Member!


Green City Dental is happy to welcome Lily Corley to our team – an experienced craniosacral body worker and myofunctional therapist.
 
Throughout her career, Lily has consistently expanded her practice to focus on healing modalities for children and families, especially early intervention strategies. Most recently, she studied with with Joy Moeller, a pioneer in the field of orofacial myofunctional therapy. She also has advanced education in infant craniosacral work, intraoral massage, and TMJ issues.
 
Lily's passion for holistic dentistry comes from her personal healing journey after a childhood plagued by chronic ear, nose, and throat complications, cavities, and TMJ.  Her practice reflects the strategies that worked for her - a combination of massage, exercises, craniosacral manipulation, and somatic therapies.
 
Lily currently works out of our office two days a week, providing body work, craniosacral therapy, and myofunctional therapy to infants, children, and adults. She looks forward to meeting you and your family and working together to finding your best healing path.
 
Seattle Magazine cover

Is Myo for Me?


Often, it’s a dentist who points out the need for myofunctional therapy – or recommends it as part of a larger treatment plan such as orthodontics or DNA appliance therapy. But you can see the signs of orofacial dysfunction for yourself. Habits such as mouth breathing, nail chewing, and incorrect swallowing can misalign your teeth, change how you look, and ultimately sap your health.
 
If you have 5 or more of these signs, give us a call to schedule an evaluation. The sooner we can pinpoint the problem, the sooner we can help you fix it and improve your overall health and well-being, perhaps in ways you haven’t even imagined!
  1. Your lips usually rest apart.
  2. Your tongue routinely rests against your teeth or pokes out between them.
  3. You have trouble breathing through your nose.
  4. You routinely have headaches or jaw, face or neck pain.
  5. You habitually bite, suck or chew on your lips, nails, hair or other objects.
  6. You snore, sleep restlessly or sometimes stop breathing while asleep.
  7. You find it hard to eat neatly and quietly.
  8. You have trouble swallowing pills.
  9. You have speech issues.
  10. Your face is elongated.
Symptom list courtesy of myofunctional therapist Barbara J. Greene
           
 
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