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Myo-Functional Therapy: Myo, Myo… Oh My!

Myo-Functional Therapy: Myo, Myo… Oh My!

Myo-Functional Therapy: Myo, Myo… Oh My!

22nd June 2020

What is Myo-functional Therapy?

Myo-functional therapy is apparently the ‘latest technology’ in straightening teeth. There are a growing number of practitioners that claim the following features can directly cause the jaws to develop poorly and the teeth to become crooked:

  • Poor breathing habits
  • Tongue habits
  • Tongue-ties
  • Faulty swallowing patterns

These practitioners claim that myo-functional appliances can ‘re-train’ the facial muscles to function ideally, which simply makes the face develop perfectly and the teeth align, thus removing the need for braces. Is this viewpoint actually true?

Is it Really a New Technique?

Myo-functional therapy was first described in 1939 and like everything else in orthodontics, enjoys a convenient re-discovery every 25 years (when the sins of the past are forgotten). The original ‘re-training’ appliances were custom-made for each individual from wire and plastic. Interestingly, modern myo-functional appliances are mass-produced using injection-moulded plastic, that look like store-bought mouthguards. They are not custom-made for each mouth, as in the old days.

Myo-functional appliances are supposed to be worn everyday by children, while their adult teeth are erupting. They are recommended from as early as five years of age until about 12 years of age. Asking a child to wear something in the mouth for six – seven years can be a steep uphill battle! Apparently, they are also available for use with braces. Hold on... weren’t they supposed to eliminate the need for braces? So, is this really a ‘preventative’ appliance or do you still need to have braces later with the myo-functional appliance?

The Real Evidence

Recent high-quality independent research* shows:

  • Wearing a myo-functional appliance can change your child’s teeth by about 2mm. At best, this is a very minor improvement and it may not be stable!
  • The treatment result for 70% of themyo-functional patients was deemed to be unsuccessful
  •  80% of children still needed braces to fix what the myo-functional treatment could not!
  • Habits, allergies or breathing disturbances in young children were not directly associated with orthodontic problems

It is clear that the independent scientific research does not support the extravagant claims made on myo-functional websites and testimonials.

In Summary

For myo-functional therapy and techniques to replace braces, it must:

  • Produce equal quality (effective) for less effort (efficiency),
  • Be easier for the patient and the clinician to use (comfort and convenience)
  • Be faster or cheaper (more productive)

Myo-functional treatment using pre-formed mouthguard-type appliances generally requires an enormous amount of effort for the patient (along with the parental nagging, anxiety and numerous appointments), considerable financial cost and a very long time (up to six years) to achieve a very minor 2mm change. Patients, parents and clinicians must ask themselves this critical question: “Is this really worth it?” It is our very strong professional opinion, that the answer is a simple NO.

* Peer-reviewed scientific/clinical articles are available on request.

Dr Paul Hanrahan, Orthodontist
Townsville Orthodontic Specialists
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17 Martinez Ave, The Lakes.
Townsville QLD 4810


07 4775 4433

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