Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy in Fort Atkinson, WI

The simple solution with a long name.

Specialist Care for Your Family

Conditions like temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD) and sleep apnea are partly developmental problems. The jaw, airway, and other structures are supposed to grow into a harmonious, functional whole. While they don’t always develop that way, they always have the potential to achieve that goal. 

Orofacial myofunctional therapy uses your muscles to reactivate your developmental mechanisms so that you can have improved jaw function and better breathing, waking, or sleeping. Plus, you might see cosmetic improvements like straighter teeth and an improved facial appearance.

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is effective for children, teens, and adults. If you would like to learn how orofacial myofunctional therapy can use your body’s natural mechanisms to improve the function and appearance of your jaw, read on and get in touch!

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What Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy Can Do

Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a powerful treatment that can help you in many ways. It can:

  • Improve jaw function

  • Reduce tension in jaw muscles

  • Improve muscle tone in the tongue and throat

  • Reshape the jaw

  • Expand the airway

  • Straighten teeth

  • Improve facial appearance

Orofacial myofunctional therapy addresses problems with your method of biting, chewing, and swallowing. You learn the proper methods to achieve these functions efficiently. This will improve the function of the jaw, which will both reduce muscle tension in jaw muscles and improve the tone of muscles in the tongue and throat. This can reduce or even eliminate symptoms of TMJThis link leads to TMJ Symptoms page and sleep apneaThis link leads to Sleep Apnea page

This will also reshape the jaw, which in turn increases the size of your airway. It can also have cosmetic effects like straightening teeth and improving the balance in facial proportions, which can make your face look more attractive.

Understand the Theory

Philosopher Will Durant, interpreting Aristotle, said, “We are what we repeatedly do,” and that is certainly the principle behind orofacial myofunctional therapy. Our bodies develop in harmony, with the actions of complex systems both driving and limiting growth. The jaw is one of the places where this is most evident. 

Chewing stimulates the growth of the jaw, as does the pressure of the tongue pushing outward while the cheeks push inward. In balance, these forces lead to a fully developed jaw. However, if there isn’t enough force pushing outward, such as when a person breathes through their mouth too much, the jaw doesn’t develop as well. This can then lead to a constricted airway, receding, narrow chin, and crooked teeth. 

Orofacial myofunctional therapy teaches habits that replicate the forces necessary to stimulate proper jaw motion. It also teaches proper techniques for breathing and swallowing. This leads to healthy jaw function and improved development. 

Many people think that development only happens when you’re a child or teen. In truth, your body always has the capacity for development, but it’s not naturally stimulated. With orofacial myofunctional therapy, we can stimulate development at any age, though it is diminished as you get older.

How Myofunctional Therapy Works

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Orofacial myofunctional therapy is a combination of exercises and an oral applianceThis link leads to Oral Appliance page.

The exercises help you retrain your muscles in healthy ways to bite, chew, swallow, and even breathe. This ideally creates better habits for life so that you can not only achieve proper jaw function but maintain healthy function for life. Similarly, once you expand your jaw, you can enjoy improved breathing for life. 

An oral appliance is used to supplement the forces of your muscles. Depending on the nature of your treatment and your goals, you might only wear it for a short period each day. Other people wear them for longer periods, up to and including all day. We may also include orthodontics following myofunctional therapy to straighten teeth and realign the bite.

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"TMJ Specialist" is not officially recognized by the American Dental Association. Dr. Stafford is a general dentist with many years of training in TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry, even though the specialty is not officially recognized. However, Wisconsin requires the following statement. "Cosmetic dentistry, TMJ, Neuromuscular dentistry, and Aesthetic dentistry are specialty areas not recognized by the ADA that requires no specific educational training to advertise this service".