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Myofunctional Sleep Apnea Approach (Lip & Tongue Ties) – Las Vegas, NV

Better Sleep Through Myofunctional Therapy

“Myofunctional therapy” is an unfamiliar term for most people, but it actually offers a proven, non-invasive way to help people reduce and even stop obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. Its main goal is to retrain and strengthen the tongue and orofacial muscles to allow for better breathing during sleep while also preventing the airway from closing down. Often, this approach is necessary for children and adults who have or have had a lip or tongue-tie. Myofunctional exercises only take a few minutes a day to complete, but the long-term benefits cannot be understated.

Lip and Tongue-Ties in Kids and Adults

Each lip as well as your tongue are connected to a thin band of tissue called a frenum or frenulum. During the last stage of gestation right before birth, these tissues are supposed to loosen and elongate, enabling these parts of the mouth to move properly. Sometimes, however, this does not happen, resulting in short or tight frenums that restrict the tongue and/or lips. While often diagnosed in infants, it’s common for mild ties to remain undetected until someone is a teenager or adult.

Sleep Apnea + Lip & Tongue Tie: What to Know

Due to a lip or tongue tie, the muscles of a person’s mouth may not develop properly, causing them to be relatively weak or flaccid. In addition to making it harder to eat and speak, this also increases the chance of the airway collapsing during sleep, causing sleep apnea. While oral appliance therapy or CPAP therapy can help, they don’t fix the underlying problem, which is the incorrect function of the orofacial muscles. This is where myofunctional therapy can help.

What are Lip and Tongue-Ties?

As touched on above, myofunctional therapy is a collection of exercises designed to help the orofacial muscles work as they should. Once a lip or tongue tie has been treated (or “released”), the patient will be given a selection of exercises that teach them to swallow correctly, primarily breathe through their nose, and keep their tongue in the correct resting posture, all of which work to open up the airway and prevent obstructions during sleep.

A Myofunctional Approach to Treating Lip & Tongue-Ties

When a patient comes to see Dr. West, as part of her exam, she’ll look for the presence of a lip or tongue tie as well as the signs that someone might have had one in the past. Some patients who have had these conditions treated have not gone through the myofunctional process, and therefore, their muscles and airway may still be working improperly. Once a patient’s lip and tongue-tie have been treated, Dr. West can prescribe a range of daily exercises that will enhance the airway, which can reduce snoring and stoppages in breathing to improve sleep quality. The best part about this kind of treatment is that the results last for a lifetime.