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Muscle Assessment and Structured Exercise is Necessary for Braces & Orthodontic Treatment

Updated: Aug 31

The success of orthodontic treatment and the stability of its results are jeopardized by failure to identify dysfunctions and habits of tongue and lips. The assessment of orofacial muscle and airway prior to the implementation of orthodontic treatment is important because orofacial disorders can increase the degree of difficulty of orthodontic treatment and contribute to the relapse of dentofacial abnormalities.


Here are a few examples of dentofacial abnormalities or malocclusions.

The combination of orthodontics and a structured exercise program such as Myofunctional Therapy leads to improvements in myofunctional capacity, allows satisfactory growth and development of the maxilla, adaptation of dentition the new occlusal pattern of the orthodontic treatment.


A change in the muscle function can initiate a morphologic variation in the normal configuration of the following:

  1. Changes in the teeth and supporting bone

  2. Enhance already existing inherent malocclusion due to compensatory or adaptive muscle activity and function

  3. Eliminates or reduces the complexity of the orthodontic treatment as the deformity is limited.

  4. Changes in swallowing, speaking, and voice function


How does structured exercise resolve the occlusal pattern of orthodontic treatment and appliances?


Growth and orthodontic treatment alone will not correct tongue thrust swallowing or reverse swallow. The twenty-two muscles that are used in normal swallowing must be re-educated to eliminate the tongue-thrust swallowing habit in order that the patient may unconsciously swallow in the correct manner.


TWO important factors in the correction of tongue-thrust swallowing are (1) growth and (2) orthodontic treatment to place the teeth in their proper positions and thus simplify proper tongue placement. The tongue can have a profound impact on the development of both the mouth and the teeth. It should rest on the roof of the mouth and provide an internal support system for the upper jaw.


When someone tends to breathe through their mouth or has a tongue thrust, the tongue will rest in the bottom of the mouth and the internal support system is nonexistent. Along with the lack of support, if the tongue is resting against the front teeth when we swallow, it pushes forward. This forward motion then will cause the teeth to move. As this swallowing pattern is repeated consistently the position of the tongue will cause the teeth to grow crooked. They tend to be more widely spaced and angled towards the lips. This creates an open bite which means the top and bottom teeth don’t overlap.


Myofunctional Therapy recovers the normal function of the oral muscles. To solve these problems we can refer to functional and fixed orthodontic appliances, which can be supported, if necessary, by structured exercises offered in Myofunctional Therapy. These customized exercises allow recovery of the normal function of the oral muscles and airway muscles.


This combination of specific and customized oral muscles and airway muscle exercises leads to improvements to the growth and development of the maxilla and assists in the adaptation of dentition to the new occlusal pattern when swallowing, breathing, and speaking.


Orthodontic treatment, in presence of bad habits (i.e. mouth breathing, atypical swallowing, labial interposition) and dysfunction of the orofacial musculature, is not enough to solve the orthodontic issues. Therefore, it is necessary to combine it with Myofunctional Therapy. The success of the treatment can be granted only if the following are obtained:

  1. Patients’ compliance.

  2. Removal of all negative factors able to affect the success of the treatment (i.e. maxillary contraction, short lingual frenum).

  3. Cooperation between orthodontists and Myofunctional Therapists.



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