Every malocclusion has an orofacial myofunctional cause. Therefore, failure to identify dysfunction and the habits of the tongue and lips could inhibit the success of orthodontic treatment and it’s long term stability.
An orthodontic relapse often occurs when underlying myofunctional disorders are not addressed. The tongue is typically where the problem lies. It should rest on the top of the mouth, filling the palate from the front to the back. The tip of the tongue rests on the bumps behind the upper front teeth, and the lips are closed while breathing through the nose. If the tongue is resting low and flat against the bottom of the mouth, it isn’t providing internal support for the upper jaw. Over time, the upper jaw will narrow.
The swallowing pattern may also need to be corrected if there is a tongue thrust. A tongue thrust or forward thrust swallow causes the tongue to push forwards against the teeth each time we swallow. Orthodontics will expand the palate and correct the dental alignment, but as soon as the braces are removed, the teeth will again be under pressure and will shift.
When orthodontists and dentists recognize the signs of orofacial myofunctional disorders or have patients who have had braces multiple times, they refer to an orofacial myologist. Our job is to help the patient retrain and strengthen their oral and facial muscles. Myofunctional therapy provides a balance between muscle function and the structural changes with orthodontic treatment, making this a valuable adjunct to orthodontic treatment.
After myofunctional therapy, the tongue posture will be correct, and the muscles of the orofacial complex will be in balance. There will be a much higher chance that the outcome of orthodontic treatment will be stable over the long term.
If you or your child are currently in treatment for braces, or have previously relapsed, we recommend considering an orofacial myofunctional evaluation to work in collaboration with your dentist/orthodontist.