Are you seeing patients with abnormal lip, jaw, or tongue positions during rest, swallowing, or speech? Are these same patients complaining of snoring or apnea? Perhaps they thumb or finger-sucked far into childhood. Perhaps they have a genetic predisposition to abnormal or restricted growth patterns in their jaw. Whatever the cause, preventing and treating these craniomandibular dysfunctions can be life-changing for patients.
Canadian registered dental hygienists can learn the crucial skills needed to significantly improve their patients’ lives by taking myofunctional therapy courses. This knowledge is invaluable to helping patients achieve proper oral postures and functions, and promoting healthy dental development, breathing, and speech.
What Is Myofunctional Therapy?
Like so many other “physical” therapies, myofunctional therapy is a carefully curated set of exercises done with the muscles of the face, mouth, and tongue. These exercises help to tone, relax, stretch, and strengthen the facial and oral muscles associated with facial posture, talking, eating, and breathing.
The importance of the appropriate coordination and strengthening of these muscles cannot be overstated. Myofunctional therapy can significantly improve a patient’s quality of life, whether their craniomandibular dysfunction causes a speech disorder, swallowing difficulty, or even sleep apnea and snoring. In fact, myofunctional therapy is so effective, it is an excellent alternative to treatments like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines, or surgery!
How Does Myofunctional Therapy Work?
Myofunctional therapy is a therapeutic “diet” of exercises designed to fix abnormal movement patterns of the mouth and face. These abnormal movement patterns can be caused by the following:
- blocked nasal passages
- a misplaced tongue position caused by environmental or genetic factors
- sucking and chewing habits past the age of 3
Myofunctional therapy uses neuromuscular re-training to bring facial and oral structures functionality back into the range of what is considered “typical”. These exercises teach your muscles, nerves, and brain how to work together to learn and maintain optimal movement. Specifically, they aim to improve the following:
- tongue position
- lip seal
- nasal breathing
Dental patients benefit significantly from treatment by hygienists with the knowledge to identify and treat these disorders. Hygienists who are interested in augmenting their education can take courses regarding the diagnosis and treatment of myofunctional disorders and integrate these therapies into the scope of their work.
Where Can Dental Hygienists Find Myofunctional Therapy Courses?
There are many ways to access myofunctional therapy courses, both online and in-person. The most effective courses are a combination of the two. Rather than taking precious time off of work, registered dental hygienists can access myofunctional therapy courses online that are led by the industry’s leading oral care professionals. Once online coursework is completed, a small number of in-person training days are required to solidify students’ understanding of the physicality of myofunctional therapy.
RDHU’s program is specifically designed for dental hygienists, and gives practitioners the confidence to incorporate myofunctional therapy at an entry level in their practice.
The program offered by rdhu consists of seven weeks of online training (one evening per week) to total 30-hours online. Thereafter, students will attend two days of in-person, hands-on training at our rdhu facility in Burlington, ON.
This comprehensive program is led by current myofunctional therapy experts for the benefit of providers seeking to practice myofunctional therapy safely and effectively. Our students are empowered with the understanding that new research in the field of myofunctional therapy is constantly growing, and that their own knowledge of myofunctional therapy should grow with the field.
Oral health and airway health are closely related. Dental hygienists can uncover and treat dental, breathing, and speech-related myofunctional disorders by attending myofunctional therapy courses.