Myofunctional Therapy In Children: Prevention Is The Best Cure

When beginning a new project, especially a long-term endeavor, the first steps are the most important. Imagine building a house on a shaky foundation, or starting a garden by haphazardly throwing handfuls of seeds in your lawn.

The ‘well begun is half done’ motto holds especially true for the development and wellness of the human physiology. Patterns established in the years leading to adolescence are often directly responsible for the shape of our face, oral cavity, and airways, all of which determine how healthy we are later in life. Failing to correct harmful habits early on can lead to everything from crooked teeth to sleep apnea and high blood pressure in adulthood. Myofunctional therapy is especially adept at recognizing precursors to potential issues and working to correct them before symptoms arise, providing a simple yet powerful preventative solution for a lifetime of wellness.

Starting Early, Starting Right
It’s surprising how many health-related issues in adulthood can be traced back to our youth. Depression, high blood pressure, chronic stress, and even sleep apnea could all have roots in seemingly innocent things like the positioning of our tongue, the shape of our face, or the quality of each breath we take.

Dealing with manifest issues can be time consuming and frustrating. A far better solution is to detect precursors and gently correct them before they cause lasting harm. This is best done by working with a myofunctional therapist as early as possible. Even common habits like thumb sucking or frequent bottle feeding could lead to developmental changes that eventually cause snoring, headaches, and hypertension.

Learning to Breathe
It isn’t uncommon for children to have mild breathing problems from time to time. The causes are wide-ranging and include everything from allergies to naturally smaller air passageways. Many times these breathing issues resolve on their own. In cases where they do not, however, damaging chronic habits can take hold.

If a child can’t take a breath through their nose, he or she will open their mouth instead. Doing this will change the structures activated in the face and neck and sets up a condition known as mouth breathing. This sets off a snowball effect that eventually alters the shape of the face, changes the resting position of the tongue, and pushes teeth out of alignment.

Myofunctional therapy can find the root cause of these breathing issues and help children correct their bad habits safely, naturally, and painlessly.

Tongue Posture
The tongue’s role in our wellness begins practically the moment we’re born. How it moves during breastfeeding directly affects the development of muscles in our face, and how it sits while at rest exerts powerful forces on the inside of the skull.

If an infant’s tongue thrusts forward, for example, it can change how the oral cavity develops. By off-balancing the passive pressure against the roof of the mouth, it can lead to an elongated face, dropping the jaw and pulling the chin towards the neck. In addition to appearing unhealthy, this can also lead to crowded, crooked teeth and difficulties breathing.

Examining the mobility of a child’s tongue early on can offer clues to physiological development. If the tongue is held back by a rigid lingual frenulum, for example, it can disrupt normal tongue patterns from the very beginning. Myofunctional therapy can begin to correct these issues with exercises and awareness routines tailored to each child’s specific needs.

During a normal swallowing pattern, the tip of the tongue should lightly touch the forward side of the roof of the mouth. Meanwhile, the body of the tongue will affect a wave-like motion to propel food backwards towards the throat. In the case of children with tongue thrust, however, the back of the tongue goes forward, pushing against their front teeth.

Most people swallow between 600 and 800 times per day. If each of these actions exerts just a little force on the back of the teeth, can you guess what the end result will be? Crooked teeth, of course, all because of a simple, preventable habit.

Learning to swallow correctly as a child can mean the difference between healthy growth patterns and abnormal ones. Myofunctional therapy is highly effective at catching habits like these before they become ingrained, allowing children to maintain proper tongue posture while swallowing so the teeth have every opportunity to come in straight and strong.

Power of Prevention
Everything we do each day of our lives directly affects our physiology, right down to taking deep breaths or swallowing our food. The body maintains balance as best it can throughout these stresses, but there comes a point where it simply can’t keep up with chronic misuse.

Bad habits like mouth breathing push the body’s coping mechanisms to their limit surprisingly fast. The longer these habits persist, the worse things become. In adults this can cause all kinds of short- and long-term problems. When the patterns are set during childhood, they can lead to nearly permanent wellness issues.

Remember the old idiom about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure. By monitoring and correcting small problems during the early years of life, we can prevent major issues from cropping up down the line. That thumb sucking habit may seem cute and harmless today, but when chronic snoring causes thousands of sleepless nights later in life, suddenly a simple trip to the myofunctional therapist doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Prevention isn’t as difficult as you might think. The earlier you start, the better. Give your child a head start on a healthy adulthood. Contact us and set up an appointment right away!

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Myofunctional Health