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Strong Foundations Build Healthy Faces

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy

Meet Cherish Sweeden, RDH, BSDH

Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist

As a dental hygienist for over 11 years, I have had the opportunity to be a part of oral healthcare for many patients. During this time, I began to see consistent concerns and issues arise with oral health that the dental and medical fields just did not have great explanations I was looking for. I have always been fascinated by the "why" of what we see in practice. Why do we develop the way we do? Why do some children need orthodontic care and others don't? Why do we clench and grind our teeth? Why do some people have sleep apnea and others don't? In 2017, I had the opportunity to take a continuing education course on sleep disordered breathing among the pediatric population. As a mother myself, the information I learned hit home and started to help put puzzle pieces together that I saw in my own family and also among patients I cared for. This course started my journey in researching and learning more in the field of myofunctional therapy, and led to me completing a well respected, in-depth course of study. I became passionate about helping people in this new adjunctive way as an orofacial myofunctional therapist. I am dedicated to helping bridge communication between medical and dental healthcare providers, and working together as a team to provide the best possible care for each person I have the privilege to work with in therapy.

Professional Memberships:

IATP-Tongue Tie Professionals 

 
 

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Highly effective and targeted exercises for the muscles of the face and mouth. Exercises used in the therapy programs can be effective alone, or used in conjunction with other treatments such as orthodontics or sleep apnea treatments. In some cases, myofunctional therapy will be used as a pre or post operative therapy alongside certain types of surgery (lip or tongue tie).

Learn more below about symptoms that can be helped by myofunctional therapy.

Rock Rubble
Clenching/Grinding Teeth

Clenching or grinding your teeth can be a sign of an airway issue. Many people are unable to tolerate a nightguard, or find themselves clenching their teeth during the day. Focused training of the muscles of the face and mouth can be an adjunctive therapy for clenching and grinding teeth.

Snoring

Snoring can indicate there is a problem with your airway. We will explore this symptom from the aspect of retraining and strengthening the muscles of the face and mouth, along with appropriate referrals to other allied health professionals. 

Man Sleeping
Restricted Tissue

Tongue and Lip ties can prevent the muscles from working properly. This can lead to airway and facial development concerns. For young babies, difficulties breastfeeding may be a symptom of restricted oral tissue. For older children and adults, mouth breathing or crooked/crowded teeth could be a sign of oral tissue restrictions.

Nasal Breathing
Sunset Views

Breathing through your nose has many benefits. Filtration, warming and humidifying air, immune system boosting, and maximizing our growth and development potential. When we mouth breathe, we lose out on these benefits. Chronic mouth breathers can present with different symptoms: adults tend to be chronically fatigued, and may have medical or oral health conditions. Athletes may have reduced athletic performance or reached a plateau. Children tend to present with symptoms such as enlarged tonsils, dry, chapped lips, and behavioral symptoms.

Jaw Development

The tongue plays a big role in helping to shape and form the upper jaw during development. The upper jaw helps guide the growth of the lower jaw. If the tongue and other orofacial muscles are not able to provide functional movements, or are not challenged properly to create strength and tone in the muscles, then the jaws will not develop to their full potential. 

Facial Posture

Is your face symmetrical? Are you straining some muscles to make certain movements? We will look in-depth to answer these questions.

Swallowing

If your muscles do not function properly, your swallow may also not work well. Some people never learned the proper muscle movement for swallowing. Others may have a reason for a dysfunctional swallow movement, such as a tongue tie. Improper swallow can lead to gastrointestinal issues, among other concerns.

Airway Health

Behind the mouth sits a portion of our airway. Soft tissues surround this vessel that allows oxygen to get into our lungs. If we are breathing through our mouths and if the muscles of the face and mouth are not functioning properly, our airway space can become compromised. If our body does not get the oxygen it needs, there will be health problems from lack of sufficient oxygen. Correcting the functional movement of the muscles can have an impact on overall health. For many, if we correct the muscles early on in life, we are giving the best chance of preventing health problems that are related to orofacial muscle dysfunction.

Educational Highlights

Myofunctional therapy alone reduced sleep disordered breathing symptoms (AHI) by 50% in adults and 62% in children

Services