HEALTHWATCH: Myofunctional Therapy

HEALTHWATCH: Myofunctional Therapy
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 8:50 AM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - For Mar. 16’s HealthWatch segment, News Channel 6 sat down with local expert Dr. Dustin Van Tassell at StarImage Dentistry to inform us on what Myofunctional Therapy is and how it can help those who need it.

“Myofunctional therapy is a therapy used to help strengthen the muscles around your mouth, your face, and also your tongue,” said Dr. Dustin Van Tassell.

In order to know if you need myofunctional therapy,  screenings are done for your tongue posture and tongue development.

“The importance of this, the tongue is the driver for facial developement. So, your upper jaw and your lower jaw grow in proportion to where your tongue is. So, if your patient had their tongue in the right place, they’re able to have proper growth and development,” said Dr. Van Tassell.

Problems that dentists look for are if patients have problems with putting their lips together, or a problem where their tongue sits, even the side of their cheeks not being strong enough. These assessments help with the customization of each individual patient.

“If the tongue is not in the right place it is going to inhibit proper growth of the upper jaw and the lower jaw,” said Dr. Van Tassell. “So, if we have our tongue in the right space. Our upper jaw and our lower jaw are going to grow to their maximum potential.”

There are exercises patients can do to help with strengthen the tongue. One of them is called push-to-tongue.

“We give a wood spoon to a patient, and we have the patient practice pushing their tongue against the spoon. So, we pushed it out. We push the tongue on the side. So, we give some exercises to have the tongue resist the spoon on both sides, underneath, and on top,” said Dr. Van Tassell.

This exercise stretches all the different fibers within the tongue. Another popular exercise is the hold the button exercise.

“We have a string with a button attached to the end of it. What we do is we put this button inside of the lips. We have this string, and we use this string, and the goal is to hold your lips. Press your lips around this button as you pull it out,” said Dr. Van Tassell.

This exercise helps strengthen the muscles that are directly around your lips-- aiding in proper lip posture and bringing your lips together.

Myofunctional therapy can range between three and six months depending on the patient.