Exercises for the muscles of the mouth and face involve the use of various kinds of tools. These tools act like the gym equipment for the muscles to exercise with. Below are the most common tools that we use at The Myofunctional Centre.
An Australian invention, the Myospots are seaweed stickers that are placed on the palate (roof the mouth) to attract the tongue up to play with them. They exercise the tongue to elevate against the palate, by building the strength and tone of its muscles.
The Myospots come in various flavours, mainly strawberry, banana and blueberry. They are made of seaweed. When the tongue plays with them, they shrink is size until they dissolve, which usually takes between 30 to 60 minutes, meaning that the tongue gets exercises for this long each time.
Another Australian invention, the MyoMunchee is a medical-grade silicone mouthguard that can be used actively or passively.
The active use means the patient chews on the mouthguard for a total of 10 to 20 minutes per day. Proper chewing on the MyoMunchee activates the mouth and face muscles positively, leading to improved functions of the tongue, lips, cheeks, for healthier swallowing, breathing and jaw development. Inside the MyoMunchee there are also bristles that stimulate and form the neurological connections of the muscle activities with the brain, through chewing.
The passive use is for when the patient is safe and ready to wear the MyoMunchee to sleep at night, as advised by the treating dentist. Passive wear of the device prevents the face muscles from exerting forces inward that may slow down the natural growth of the jaws, along with encouraging nasal breathing and elevating the tongue up to swallow.
Invented in Australia also, the Myobrace is another medical-grade silicone mouthguard that comes in different types and sizes, depending on the need of the patient. These mouthguards have various design features that train the tongue to elevate up, swallow properly, breathe through the nose and keep the lips closed.
Different to the MyoMunchee, the Myobrace is not for chewing. For it to be effective, it needs to be worn for about 2 hours total while awake daily, and to sleep at night. Certain orofacial myofunctional exercises are also required to complement the use of the device, so that the muscles of the mouth and face improve in functions quicker.
The Healthy Start appliances work in similar fashion to the Myobrace. They are also mouthguards that come in various designs and sizes. Some of the features are different to the Myobrace, and can be more effective in correcting certain orofacial dysfunctions.
Similarly, the Healthy Start mouthguards need to be worn for about 2 hours while awake daily, and to sleep at night. The orofacial myofunctional exercises are an important part in the effectiveness of using the device.
There are other orofacial myofunctional tools that we use. Not all patients will get to use the entire range, as they need to be individualized accordingly to address the particular dysfunctions of each specific patient.
Are Myospots safe to use in the mouth?
Myospots are dissolvable and made of natural ingredients that are safe for consumption. They consist of no gluten, dairy, nor soy products. They also do not contain any animal derived products, making them suitable for vegans.
Can these orofacial appliances make the jaws to grow?
These orofacial appliances are designed as devices that retrain the muscles of the mouth and face toward optimal functions. Wearing them appropriately and practicing the associated exercises as prescribed and instructed, assist in correcting orofacial dysfunctions. The appliances themselves do not directly make the jaws grow. It is the way the muscles of the mouth and face function that influence the natural growth of the jaws. Hence, better functions usually lead to wider jaws, when the patient still has natural growth potential.
Can the Myobrace, or Healthy Start, work without exercises?
Without orofacial exercises, the Myobrace or Healthy Start may still provide improvements, but nowhere near ideal. These devices are like gym equipment. If you just sit on a treadmill, without using it accordingly, then the equipment is not going to be able to help you much with your exercise goals.
When wearing it to sleep, will the mouthguard stay in all night immediately?
The mouthguards do not usually stay in all night from the very first night. If the patient has been wearing the mouthguard while awake routinely daily, along with practicing the exercises diligently, then the muscles of the mouth and face tend to be able to function better, resulting in the ability to keep the mouthguard in the mouth overnight sooner. Some patients need a few days, and some a few weeks, before the mouthguard stays in all night during sleep.
Are the mouthguards customized to the size of each patient’s mouth?
No. These mouthguards come in different sizes, but are not fitted exactly to the patient’s mouth. They are not sport mouthguards, designed to protect the teeth. Instead, they have been designed to retrain the muscles. Hence, these mouthguards need to be slightly larger than the patient’s dental arches, so that when the muscles of the mouth and face begin to function better, the jaws can then naturally grow. When the jaws are widening, the dental arches become wider as well…growing to occupy the mouthguard. When the mouthguard feels tight, that is when it needs to be changed to a larger size.
Do orofacial mouthguards break?
Because they are made of soft medical-grade silicone, these mouthguards do not last forever. Yes, sometimes they do break. The MyoMunchee, especially, has been designed for chewing, and therefore, they usually last around 6 to 12 months. From our experience, with any of these mouthguards, if the patient’s bite is quite heavy (eg. severe deep overbite), then they tend to not last as long, due to being under a lot of dysfunctional pressure during wear.
How do I clean these mouthguards?
Giving them a good rinse under tap water routinely and/or soaking them in bicarbonate soda solutions are usually sufficient to maintain their cleanliness. There are also mouthguard cleanser tablets available at your local supermarket, which may help in removing heavier stains, should there be any.