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Breathing better – The role of orofacial myofunctional therapy

Posted on January 9th, 2024

Do you often feel tired, suffer from headaches, or struggle with allergies? You might be surprised to learn that the way you breathe could be a contributing factor. 

Breathing is something we all do without much thought. But did you know that how you breathe can affect your overall health? 

That’s where orofacial myofunctional therapy comes in.

What is orofacial myofunctional therapy?

Orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) is a specialized form of therapy designed to treat muscle disorders and functions of the face and mouth. It focuses on correcting improper habits of the tongue, lips, and jaw that can affect breathing, speech, and swallowing. OMT can benefit people of all ages, from children to adults.

OMT is often used to address conditions such as…

Tongue thrust: This is a pattern of swallowing in which the tongue pushes against or between the teeth, which can affect dental alignment and speech.

Incorrect tongue position at rest: This occurs when the tongue rests against the teeth or the roof of the mouth instead of in the natural position against the palate.

Mouth breathing: This is when a person breathes primarily through the mouth instead of the nose, which can lead to issues such as dry mouth, bad breath, and altered facial development in children.

Thumb or finger sucking: These are habits that can affect the development of the teeth and jaw. 

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders: These are jaw-joint issues that can cause pain, clicking, or limited movement.

Speech disorders related to orofacial muscle function: These are conditions, including lisps, in which the muscles of the face, mouth, or throat cause difficulties with speech sound production, articulation, or clarity. 

How does OMT help with breathing?

Orofacial myofunctional therapy can significantly improve breathing patterns. Many people are unaware that the way they breathe isn’t the best. Poor breathing often occurs due to habits such as mouth breathing or tongue thrusting. These habits can lead to a range of issues, including poor sleep quality, fatigue, and even facial development problems.

OMT addresses these issues by retraining the muscles of the face and mouth to function properly. By correcting improper habits and promoting nasal breathing, OMT can help improve airflow. And this can lead to better oxygenation of the body and better health. Additionally, OMT can alleviate snoring and sleep apnea by promoting proper breathing during sleep.

What to expect from OMT

If you’re considering orofacial myofunctional therapy, you likely want to know what the process involves. OMT typically begins with a comprehensive evaluation by a trained therapist who will assess your breathing, swallowing, and oral habits. Based on this assessment, the therapist will develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs.

Treatment may involve a combination of exercises and techniques designed to retrain the muscles of the face and mouth. These exercises are tailored to target specific issues such as mouth breathing, tongue thrusting, or improper swallowing patterns. The goal is to gradually retrain the muscles to function more optimally, leading to improved breathing and oral function.

What are the benefits of OMT?

The benefits of orofacial myofunctional therapy extend beyond improved breathing. By correcting improper oral habits, OMT can also lead to better speech articulation, enhanced facial aesthetics, and improved oral health. Additionally, OMT can benefit people undergoing orthodontic treatment, as it helps stabilize the results of orthodontic work by addressing underlying muscle issues.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a valuable tool for improving breathing and oral function. Whether you’re struggling with breathing issues, speech problems, or simply want to optimize your oral health, OMT could be the solution you’ve been looking for. Talk to a qualified OMT therapist to learn more about how this therapy could benefit you or your child.

Dr. Meghna Dassani has practiced dentistry for over two decades and is passionate about the role dentists play in whole-body health. You can learn more at her website:

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