A Little Snoring is Normal, Right?
Updated: Jan 1, 2022
People often assume that the aging body is destined to experience one or more of the following: snoring, sleep apnea, muscles weakness, lack of facial muscle tone/sagging jowls, crooked/crowded teeth/malocclusion, and difficulty swallowing.
AT ANY AGE, SNORING IS THE FIRST SIGN OF SLEEP DISORDERED BREATHING.
Tongue posture is important. The tongue should always be placed against the roof of the mouth. This posture helps to keep the airway open, especially during sleep. When the muscles of the oropharynx are weak, they may disrupt the flow of air, and snoring may occur. If the airway collapses, it becomes compromised or completely blocked. A weak and floppy tongue may fall back into the throat, creating an obstruction. This is the first sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
Oral breathing, tongue-ties, improper swallowing habits, and thumb sucking habits can impact sleep, energy, concentration and even contribute to orthodontic relapse.
If the oral muscles are not functioning properly, the body will compensate for its dysfunction, especially when it comes to improper breathing habits. The body’s most important task is to keep you breathing. When the compensation or habit becomes chronic it can cause permanent changes to your skeletal system and cause long-term issues. Our goal is to treat the root cause of the problem and address it before it becomes a chronic issue.
What is Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy? Myofunctional therapy is a specialized practice that includes the diagnosis, prevention, interception and correction of myofunctional disorders, as well as habits associated with or causing these muscular concerns. Myofunctional therapists are trained to eliminate negative oral habits through behavior modification techniques, neuromuscular re-educating or re-patterning of the oral and facial muscles and the promotion of positive growth patterns. Myofunctional therapists re-train patients who have acquired oral breathing habits to breathe properly through their noses (given that patients’ airways are not compromised). Myofunctional therapy further focuses on proper resting tongue position, correct chewing and swallowing behavior, and emphasizes the importance of proper head and neck posture patterns. When the tongue is positioned forward and up it opens the airway, reduces habits like thumb sucking and mouth breathing, and it also stabilizes the jaw. When the jaw is stabilized, the chewing muscles may begin to deactivate from habitual clenching and grinding. The patient will also be asked to wear a “spot” made of stomahesive on their palate, which trains the tongue to sit properly against the roof of the mouth.
Successful myofunctional therapy is a partnership between the provider and the client. The dental team and myofunctional therapist are dedicated to achieving the best possible result for each person. As a general rule, informed and cooperative individuals can achieve incredible and very successful results from their programs.
OMT is successful because muscle moves bone.
Children under the age of 12 often can achieve great results reducing the need for prolonged orthodontics because the tongue is nature's best expansion device. When the tongue is positions properly up on the palate it encourages the jaw to grow wide and forward creating a beautifully large airway space.
If we want to breathe efficiently, speak well, chew effectively, and swallow functionally, we must have properly functioning muscles. Our bodies operate on a “use it or lose it” platform. Just as we know we have to lift weights to keep our bodies fit, OMT is there to help tone and strengthen our facial structures to maintain good posture and promote healthy function.
Breathe effortlessly. Be Well.
Laura Barlow, CBBA, CSOM, INHC