mature couple sleeping soundly in bed thanks to Myofunctional Therapy in Columbus, OhioIf you are dealing with sleep apnea, you might not be considering myofunctional therapy. It wouldn’t be that surprising: most doctors will recommend CPAP–often not acknowledging other options except surgery. While many dentists in Columbus, OH, now offer oral appliance therapy as an alternative sleep apnea treatment, few know about myofunctional therapy, which can be a better option for many people.

We’ll help you understand what myofunctional therapy is, how effective it can be for sleep apnea, and when it’s the right choice for your sleep apnea.

What Is Myofunctional Therapy?

Myofunctional therapy utilizes the power of your muscles to improve the function of your teeth, jaw, and airway.

Our muscles contribute heavily to the shape and size of our bones. During development, repeated muscle action stimulates the growth of our bones, as directed by our genetics. In response to unhealthy adaptations and habits–called oral myofunctional disorders (OMD)–many people develop problems such as a narrow jaw, narrow airway, and other anatomical forms that make the airway collapse at night (an apnea) more likely.

Myofunctional therapy treats the OMDs that contribute to sleep apnea. Unhealthy swallowing habits, holding your tongue in certain resting positions, and other OMDs reinforce the shape of a narrow jaw and small airway.

Learning healthier postures for the jaw and tongue and practicing healthy swallowing form can help stimulate your body to reshape your jaws–and the airway that depends on your bones for its shape and size. This makes breathing easier during the day and at night. Plus, the exercises help tone the muscles that support your airway, reducing the risk of collapse at night.

Is Myofunctional Therapy Effective for Sleep Apnea?

Yes. Clinical trials show that myofunctional therapy can significantly reduce the severity of your sleep apnea. Although the studies are not extensive, they show that people can dramatically improve their sleep apnea. One systematic review showed that using myofunctional therapy could reduce the severity of a person’s sleep apnea. On average, people could reduce their apnea / hypopnea index (AHI) from 25 to 12, cutting the number of breathing interruptions by half. This resulted in better sleep, as measured by the Epworth Sleepiness Scores (ESS), which reduced from 15 to 8.

It isn’t just sleep apnea that myofunctional therapy improved, either. In studies where they measured snoring via polysomnogram, it dropped from about 14% of time sleeping to 4% of time sleeping. This translates to almost an hour less snoring every night.

The studies also show that people experienced better quality of life after using myofunctional therapy for their sleep apnea.

Is Myofunctional Therapy Right for Your Sleep Apnea?

But how do you know if myofunctional therapy is right for your sleep apnea? Here are some factors to consider.

Do You Have Mild or Moderate Sleep Apnea?

If you have mild or moderate sleep apnea, myofunctional therapy might be a good treatment option. The breathing improvements with myofunctional therapy could be enough to remove sleep apnea symptoms altogether.

Do You Want to Reduce Your Severe Sleep Apnea?

If you have severe sleep apnea, you likely need a treatment that addresses your condition quickly. For many people, CPAP is the only frontline treatment considered acceptable by their doctor. However, while using CPAP, you can also practice myofunctional therapy. This can reduce the severity of your sleep apnea to the point where you might not need CPAP anymore–you can switch to more comfortable and convenient oral appliance therapy.

Do You Experience Breathing Problems During the Day?

Sleep apnea treatments like CPAP and oral appliance therapy only help you breathe at night. However, many people with sleep apnea–especially severe sleep apnea–also experience breathing difficulties during the day. If you find that you get easily winded during the day because you just can’t take in enough air, or if you’re forced to breathe through your mouth during the day, myofunctional therapy might be right for you.

Do You Have Other Issues Myofunctional Therapy Might Improve?

One of the great benefits of myofunctional therapy is that it doesn’t just address sleep apnea–it can help with many issues caused by OMDs. Some of the common problems that myofunctional therapy can help with include:

  • Crowded or crooked teeth
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ / TMD)
  • Lips that don’t close over teeth
  • Unattractive profile, especially a weak jaw or receding chin

When you use myofunctional therapy to reshape your jaw and skull, you create effects that can cure or improve many problems at once. As the jaw grows, it not only expands the space for the airway, it makes more space for crowded teeth. Learning to bite and chew more healthily can reduce symptoms of TMJ, including headaches and migraines. Expanding the jaw can reduce the appearance of a receding jaw.

Find Out If Myofunctional Therapy Is Right for You in Columbus, OH

If you are trying to find the best solution to your sleep apnea in Columbus, OH, sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian can help. He can give you a different perspective than your regular doctor or sleep doctor, giving you more options for successful treatment of your condition. Then he can work with you to decide which option or options will work best in your situation.

Please call (614) 683-4640 or use our online contact form today to schedule an appointment at Firouzian Dentistry in Columbus, OH.