• Home
  • Myofunctional Therapy and Oral Habits

Myofunctional Therapy and Oral Habits

We have all turned the page on 2020 and thankfully so. There isn’t one person who has not been affected by the pandemic in one way or another. Hopefully, our lives will slowly return to normal over 2021 with the kids returning to school and sports leagues, retailers being able to operate without restrictions and businesses bringing back their employees. Let’s hope for less Zoom meetings and more face to face encounters! Thank you to all those workers who have been and still are front and centre in helping patients return to health. 


In this article, I wanted to return to the topic of oral habits. We have touched on this in the past. The most common oral habits include thumb or finger sucking, mouth breathing and tongue thrusting. The reason why these habits are detrimental is because they can significantly affect the development of the jaws and the position of the teeth if they persist past the toddler stage. 


Any parent who has had a child with a thumb sucking habit knows the frustration of using home remedies to eliminate the habit. It is stressful to say the least, for both the child and the parent. If the habit can be reduced from day and night time sucking to just night time, then everyone is happy and the problem is solved, correct? Unfortunately, anything short of total elimination of the habit is needed to allow the jaws to develop normally and the teeth to settle into an improved position. 


The orthodontic solution to eliminating a thumb habit is to use an appliance called a “crib”. This appliance is bonded into place on the upper molars and is positioned behind the upper front teeth and acts as a physical barrier to the thumb. There are issues with speech as the appliance does get in the way of normal tongue positioning. The success rate is generally good with the habit being eliminated within a few months at which time the appliance can be removed. Alternatively, an approach that is less known but also quite successful, involves myofunctional therapy. 


Myofunctional therapy is a general term that refers to therapy that helps to eliminate harmful oral habits. There are specific strategies geared towards each habit provided by a Certified Therapist that does not involve any type of appliance or retainer. With thumb sucking, the therapist uses positive reinforcement strategies to eliminate the habit. The therapist works closely with the child and teaches the child to become aware and take responsibility for the habit. The child is accountable to the therapist and learns to take control of the behaviour and to make changes in a positive way. The parent has no involvement in the process. Therefore, there are no potential parent/child confrontations regarding the thumb sucking progress. Elimination of the habit can occur just as fast or faster compared to appliance therapy. 


If your child has a thumb sucking habit (even night time only) that is persisting past the toddler stage, ask your dental professional about a referral to a myofunctional therapist. There are a few in the London area including one at BHG Orthodontics. In future articles, we will look at the other very common oral habits (mouthbreathing and tongue thrusting) and their negative effects on the developing jaws and bite. 

Doctors Hill and Gross have the experience to help craft beautiful smiles for all manner of patients, both children and adults.


Questions? Comments? Contact us today!

Subscribe to our Newsletter!

News Letter