Myofunctional therapy for dysfunctional swallowing

Myofunctional therapy aims to re-educate the altered muscular functions that lead to swallowing, articulation, breathing and chewing disorders. Speech therapy specialist Eva Errando Ricol explains what the treatment for this pathology consists of.

What is dysfunctional swallowing?

Dysfunctional or atypical swallowing is the set of incorrect swallowing patterns caused by altered functions of the musculature of the stomatognathic system. Many times this dysfunctional swallowing is caused by oral breathing patterns that lead to a low tongue position, so that the tongue remains on the floor of the hypotonic mouth.

Why does dysfunctional swallowing occur?

This breathing can be produced by multiple causes, such as adenoid and/or tonsillar hypertrophy. This will cause the tongue to remain in a forward position inside the mouth, with subsequent mouth opening and mouth breathing. Repeated colds and mucus in the ears can also lead to upper airway obstruction that will cause breathing through the mouth.

Other reasons that can lead to dysfunctional swallowing can be the prolonged use of pacifiers and bottles, baby food for a period of time that is too long for the child’s age. Also harmful habits such as nail biting (onychophagia), biting objects such as pens, etc.

Treatment for dysfunctional swallowing

The correction of altered swallowing patterns is performed at any age, being increasingly demanded by orthodontists, since functional alterations of the musculature act to the detriment of the good results of orthodontic treatment, so it is very important the joint work of both professionals.

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The specialized speech therapist will perform an initial examination to assess the altered functions, as well as the need for referral to other specialists in order to offer the best treatment for each particular case.