Many jaw and facial problems in adulthood begin with childhood habits of thumb-sucking, mouth breathing, poor tongue position, abnormal tongue thrust when swallowing and poor lip muscle strength. The causes of these habits can be many and varied including bottle feeding, excessive dummy use, poor nasal airways due to enlarged tonsils and adenoids and allergies, to name a few.
These issues can affect strongly the proper growth of the jaw bones and position of the teeth meaning that orthodontic treatment might be necessary as the child gets older. Also poor breathing at night (resulting in poor sleep quality), snoring and teeth grinding can become problematic for the child’s (and adult’s) health. Daytime alertness, concentration and academic performance may all be adversely affected. Even prolonged bed-wetting has been associated with sleep disordered breathing in children. Adults with jaw and facial pain can have abnormalities of breathing, tongue and jaw posture, lip seal and abnormal swallow associated with uncorrected muscle pattern that began in their childhood.
Orofacial Myology involves the identification and management of the above-mentioned issues and treatment with a largely home based exercise program involving about 5 minutes twice daily for about 2-4 months. These protocols are research based and are gaining traction world-wide. This type of treatment is being increasingly sought by orthodontists, Ear-Nose-Throat specialists, sleep medicine practitioners, general practitioners and TMJ and craniofacial pain therapists, and of course, the general public as recognition of the health implications become more widely known.
Russell (a qualified orofacial myologist) will incorporate assessment of these issues as part of his thorough initial examination and discuss the possible influence and solutions around orofacial muscle function.