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Char Boshart, M.A., CCC-SLP

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“Myo” means muscle. A myofunctional therapist helps you so the muscles of your mouth function better, easier, and more efficiently. A myofunctional therapist may also be a speech-language pathologist, a dental hygienist, or occupational therapist. There are others, but those are the main ones.

There are several possibilities but these are the most frequent ones: 1) Abnormal mouth resting posture, especially when the tongue is down and forward. Sometimes there’s mouth breathing, sometimes, not. A plugged nose causes the jaw to lower, lips to open, and the tongue to rest down, or down and forward. 2) Digit (thumb or finger) sucking and excessive pacifier use keeps your tongue pinned to the floor of your mouth and encourages your tongue move forward and back. It gets used to that movement pattern and your swallow follows suit. 3) An openbite (vertically parted front teeth) encourages the tongue to move forward and swallow there. The openbite may, or may not, be caused from digit sucking. 4) Large tonsils can encourage your tongue to move forward and function there.

It’s a series of lessons that you do each week. Each lesson builds your abilities from the previous week. You get better and better over time. Each lesson is organized and spells out exactly what you need to do. Follow your therapist’s instructions and you will do well!

Most often, the therapy part of the program typically takes 12 to 15 weeks. Some programs have a follow-up period of several months, and you are seen for check-ups to make sure your swallow and mouth resting position are still doing well.

Yes. How many times you practice is up to your myofunctional therapist. Most will ask you to practice 2 to 3 times each day. The more you practice the better your swallow becomes and the quicker you change to a good swallow. You’ve have your harmful swallow for several years. It takes a while to change it to a new, unharmful swallow. Get into the routine and stick with it, and you will be SUCCESSFUL!

Yes, in most cases. Frankly, it depends on you. You are in charge of your mouth-resting posture, and your swallow. Your “swallowing system” will get used to doing the new pattern. But don’t trust it! Check on your tongue frequently to make sure it’s doing good positions and swallowing movements. Most of the time, if your new swallow is consistent and your old swallow has not returned after six months, you’re good. Chances are it will not return.