Evaluating More than Just Your Teeth

October 19, 2023

Did you know that addressing mouth breathing is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of your braces? Orthodontists consider various factors, including mouth breathing, the position of the tongue, and your bite. Mouth breathing can impact the alignment of your teeth and your bite. When the mouth remains open, it lacks the necessary support for the teeth, as the lips become weak. Simultaneously, the tongue exerts forward pressure, gradually shifting the teeth over time. This can pose challenges for orthodontic treatment, leading to prolonged treatment duration and a higher risk of non-permanent results.

The position of the tongue plays a crucial role in the development of the mouth and teeth. Ideally, it should rest against the roof of the mouth, providing internal support for the upper jaw. However, individuals who habitually breathe through their mouths or exhibit tongue thrust will find their tongue resting at the bottom of the mouth, lacking the necessary internal support system. When the tongue contacts the front teeth during swallowing, it pushes them forward, causing misalignment over time. This repetitive swallowing pattern results in crooked teeth that are widely spaced and angled outward, creating an open bite, where the upper and lower teeth don't overlap.

When a child is ready for braces, concerns arise regarding dental issues caused by tongue thrust, both during and after orthodontic treatment. Addressing muscular issues associated with tongue thrust is crucial because it can complicate orthodontic treatment. Spaces become challenging to close, and teeth alignment becomes more difficult. Treatment duration may extend, necessitating prolonged brace wear. Failure to eliminate these habits can result in teeth shifting again after braces are removed, potentially requiring multiple rounds of braces. Myofunctional therapy is designed to rectify these issues stemming from tongue thrust and mouth breathing, facilitating the orthodontic process.

The optimal time to commence myofunctional therapy is during a child's growth phase when their faces, jaws, teeth, and bodies are rapidly changing. Ideally, therapy should begin before braces are applied. However, myofunctional therapy can still significantly enhance orthodontic results, even if braces are already in place.

If braces have been removed, and teeth have started shifting, it's not too late to begin myofunctional therapy. Many adult patients seek myofunctional therapy to address these concerns, particularly when they require braces for a second or third time, with their orthodontist recommending the correction of a tongue thrust as a prerequisite.