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Myofunctional Therapy

January 1, 2024

Join Dr. Bockow for a brief explanation of Myofunctional Therapy - a perhaps surprisingly effective method for reducing AHI, an index of sleep apnea events per night. This interesting therapy focuses on exercises targeting the lips, tongue, and oral structures in order to strengthen the associated muscles, improve tongue posture, and promote nasal breathing.

Dr. Rebecca Bockow is a dual-trained board-certified orthodontist and periodontist – one of only a handful in the country. She lectures nationally on periodontics, orthodontics, interdisciplinary orthodontics, airway, and skeletal growth and development.

” So, what is myofunctional therapy? It's important. We need tongue space, tongue tone, and, finally, tongue mobility. So myofunctional therapy is isotonic isometric exercises targeting lips, tongue, oral pharyngeal structures, including soft palate and lateral pharyngeal walls.

” Why is it helpful? The dilator muscles of the upper airway can maintain patent (remain open) during sleep. So we want closed lip posture, proper tongue posture, nasal breathing to improve the trajectory of skeletal growth, like we saw in this young man.

” We pronounce vowel sounds, tongue exercises range of motion, as well as strength, facial exercises that address the lips, buccinator, and jaw muscles, nasal inhalation, specific chewing, and swallowing and so looking at... this was a 2015 systematic review, looked at a lot of papers that studied the before and after effects on kids and adults with myofunctional therapy and just sharing with you one of their diagrams in their paper.

” But they were able to show that the AHI or the sleep apnea scores reduced in adults just with myofunctional therapy. So, looking at some of these numbers: 15 to 9, 28 to 13, 22 to 11, pretty impressive that just by strengthening the muscles, we're able to improve sleep apnea scores. Not a complete resolution, but Improvement for sure.

” So thinking about structure, function, behavior as an orthodontist, as orthodontists, we can help with structure. Function, really it has to do with the ability to breathe through the nose, the ability to get the tongue up and then behavior is just because the patient can are they doing it on a regular basis.”

Dr. Bockow loves to create beautiful smiles for her patients, setting them up for a lifetime of dental and airway health.

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