Join Me On The Myo Munchee Global Tour

The Myo Munchee is one of my favorite myofunctional therapy products. I’ve been using it in my practice for years, and for good reason. It works!

The Myo Munchee is designed to encourage chewing and to activate the muscles of mastication - the masseters, temporals, and medial and lateral pterygoids - as well as many of the facial muscles and lips

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Chewing correctly is an important part of being a child. When we can get kids to chew, we can help encourage and promote optimal facial growth and jaw development. But in a world of soft foods specifically intended for babies and younger children, effective chewing isn’t always happening as often as it should be.

That’s why I suggest that many of my patients use the Myo Munchee with their children. I even include a Myo Munchee in the treatment kits for all of the patients in my Mini Myo programs for kids under five years of age.

Besides the obvious chewing-related benefits, Myo Munchees can also help with mouth breathing. When kids use a Munchee, they pretty much have to use their nose to breathe. And that’s important to me as a myofunctional therapist, especially when you consider my Four Goals of Myofunctional Therapy.

The Myo Munchee Global Tour

Years ago, I used to joke with my patients that I should work for the Myo Munchee company because I promote their products so much.

Now here I am, honored to be collaborating with them for their USA MyoMunchee Tour. I’ve met the Myo Munchee team at various conferences and seminars, and I’ve been able to get to know some of them quite well. So I was thrilled when the CEO, Mary Bourke, reached out and asked me to join them as a presenter on the USA leg of their upcoming global tour.  

If you’re a myofunctional therapist, a doctor of any kind, a dentist or orthodontist, a speech pathologist, a dental hygienist, a body worker, or any other type of healthcare professional who is passionate about kids health, you should join me at one of the Myo Munchee courses starting on June 8th 2019.

These courses are described as “…the most comprehensive Myo Munchee education event ever. “Protocols for a New Generation” is the first of an international educational series for the long awaited Myo Munchee Manual. We will be presenting our clinical protocols from Dental, Myofunctional and Manual Therapy perspectives. This will be a unique opportunity to not only learn Myo Munchee best practices, but also to network with like-minded professionals to build your own referral system and team in your own city.

We’ll be in Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and Dallas, talking all about the Myo Munchee and how it can be used to help your patients. I hope to see you there!

Click here to find out more about the Myo Munchee Global Tour.

Click here to find out more about the product.

And here’s a video I shot a while back about the Myo Munchee:


 

Myofunctional Therapy Training - The Paradigm Is Shifting

You’ll notice that on this site, I often mention how quickly the field of myofunctional therapy is growing. I keep seeing evidence of this in the number of patients, doctors, and hygienists who are contacting me. There’s been a huge surge of interest in the last couple of years.

But I’ve recently seen some of the most compelling evidence yet.

My latest myofunctional therapy program sold out, just like the last three, but that’s not what got me thinking. I noticed that over 70% of the students on this program are hygienists who will be practicing myofunctional therapy in a dental practice. In most cases, the dentist that owns the practice is putting them through the program.

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This is a huge change from the way things used to be. When I first started working as a myofunctional therapist, it was almost unheard of for a dentist to be training hygienists as myofunctional therapists. The vast majority of students were hygienists looking for a career change or for better ways to help their patients. 

In recent years however, the percentages have begun to change. A couple of years ago, I would occasionally have a dentist training a hygienist through my program. Now it’s increasingly looking like most of my future students will be practicing in a dental office.

To me, that’s an undeniable sign that’s the dental field is not only recognizing but embracing myofunctional therapy. This of course means that the field is becoming increasingly mainstream.

This was also recently driven home for me by the number of researchers, doctors and dentists all working to further the field. I was thrilled to see the enthusiasm and professionalism displayed by hundreds of attendees at the two conferences I attended in September.

I was at the Orthotropics Symposium in London and at the AAMS (Academy of applied myofunctional sciences) Congress in Rome. It quickly became clear that there are so many research projects being done, textbooks being written, and protocols being finalized at the moment. I believe that these advances, along with the dramatically increased awareness of myofunctional therapy are going to drive the field until it’s as commonplace and mainstream as dentistry or orthodontics.

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All of which makes me very happy!

Myofunctional therapy can help so many patients, and address an amazing number of health concerns. I know that the field and every single one of us practicing in it can make an enormous difference. I see it on a daily basis in my practice, and I often hear it from the graduates of my programs.

If you’d like to find out more about myofunctional therapy, and how it can be integrated into a dental practice, or how it could enhance or even change your hygiene career, then please feel free to reach out. I’ll be happy to have a chat.

The ADA Is Embracing Airway Dentistry

It’s become clear to me that the field of myofunctional therapy is in a real growth phase right now. As I say on the homepage of this site, the field is exploding!

Frankly, I think the surge is only just getting started. As more and more patients and medical professionals begin to truly understand the importance of the airway, we’ll see myofunctional therapy become very mainstream and well known.

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The American Dental Association (ADA) has recognized that airway health is critical. Earlier this year, there was a new policy statement on the Role of Dentistry in the Treatment of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders. This statement recommends that dentists screen their patients for sleep disordered breathing, bringing sleep medicine firmly into the dental arena, and not just in the highly specialized way it’s been applied in the past. This is an organizational-level initiative.

Sleep Dentistry is Airway Dentistry

Some readers may wonder how I’m connecting a focus on sleep apnea and other types of sleep disordered breathing with the airway.

Well, sleep dentistry is airway dentistry. You can’t address sleep disordered breathing without addressing the airway. Even if the treatment in question is a mandibular advancement appliance, it’s designed to open the airway.

For example, the SomnoMed website has this to say on the subject of sleep apnea:

“While we sleep, gravity and muscle relaxation allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissue to fall back into the throat area, collapsing the airway and obstructing the air flow.

Continuous Open Airway Therapy (COAT)® is a category of products that treat patients seeking an easy, efficient solution for OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea.”

Regardless of the approach taken to treat sleep disordered breathing, the airway is going to considered one way or another.

Airway Health is Here!

As further confirmation that the ADA is seriously acknowledging the importance of the airway, I noticed the fact that there was an interesting conference recently at ADA Headquarters in Chicago. The conference was titled 2018 Children’s Airway Health – A Practical Conference.

The conference was described as follows:

"The Children's Airway Health – A Practical Conference is a two day event that will impact your ability to recognize compromised airway health in your pediatric patients and give dentists and their team tools for engaging families in the diagnostic and treatment pathways. To be able to make a true difference in the lives of children and families, the dentist needs to recognize children at risk, know what to say, who to work with, and how to get paid for services."

Some of the topics, and the speakers for that matter, would be instantly recognizable to anyone who’s been working in myofunctional therapy for a while.

Dr. Christian Guilleminault, MD is a prolific researcher on the topic of the airway. He spoke about Sleep Disordered Breathing, and Dr. Barry Raphael, DMD spoke about Orthodontics with an Airway Focus.

Other topics included An Airway Focused Approach To Dental Clinical Care by Dr. Mark Cruz, DDS, and it was great to see myofunctional therapy being discussed as well – Kristie Gatto, MA spoke about Myofunctional Therapy and the Airway.

It’s so encouraging to me to see all of these exciting developments in the field. And it definitely isn’t limited to the USA – it’s a global shift.  

I’m leaving in a few days to attend the IAFGG (International Association of Facial Growth Guidance Orthotropics Symposium in London, followed by the AAMS (Academy of Applied Myofunctional Sciences) Congress in Rome.

The list of internationally-based speakers and topics at both events is impressive to say the least. Here’s what will be covered at the AAMS Conference:

  • History of Craniofacial Intervention
  • Sleep - Pulmonology - Neurology - Psychiatry - Dental Sleep
  • Surgery - Sleep Surgery - Oral Surgery - Soft Tissue
  • Surgery
  • Otolaryngology
  • Posture
  • Genetics/Epigenetics
  • Evolution
  • Chewing, Nutrition, and Diet
  • Dentistry - Orthodontic - Pediatric Dental - Dental Hygiene
  • Psychology of Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders (OMDs)
  • Early Intervention, from Pregnancy to Newborn
  • Speech-Language Pathology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Lactation Consulting
  • Public Health
  • Research

Click the image below to download the full AAMS Congress flyer.

It’s a sign of things to come – there’s so much research and great work being done around the world, and it will all translate into better outcomes for our patients. Myofunctional therapy is a perfect fit for airway dentistry. There’s no better time to be part of this amazing field!

Epigenetics and Tongue-Tie

I recently hosted Stacy Fletcher, RDH BS OMT on my Myomentor Study Club call. The topic was Epigenetics and Tongue-Tie but as she put it in her introductory slide, it could have been called Epigenetics - What It Is, And Why It's Making Us The Sickest Generation Yet!

As I said in this post on my Faceology website, the subject of tongue-ties has gone from being something few of my patients had ever heard of to something I get contacted about on a daily basis. Stacey goes into a lot of detail on the MTHFR gene mutation that's connected to tongue-ties, and she covers so much else including:

  1. The definition of epigentics
  2. DNA methylation and its role in the body
  3. Nutrigenomics - the study of nutrition and genes
  4. Methyl genetic nutrition
  5. Eating for your genes
  6. Water
  7. Makeup and clothing
  8. Antibiotics
  9. Stress
  10. Oral development
  11. Folic acid supplementation for pregnant women

I think this call was one of the most interesting we've ever had on the Study Club. It really is essential listening for any myofunctional therapist or health practitioner, and not just those who deal with the mouth and tongue-ties.

 

Take Action, Change Your Life

I was watching a Tony Robbins video on YouTube recently, and something he said really resonated with me. He was asking the people in his audience why they were there – to improve their businesses, or even to start a business. To change a relationship they were in, or to find happiness. Whatever the reason, everyone was there to improve something in his or her life.

But Tony pointed out a key factor that’s absolutely critical: without action, there can be no progress.

You can have the best of intentions, a long list of goals, or even an amazing plan for your business, but without taking action, nothing is ever going to happen.

I know this in my own life, and of course, in my myofunctional therapy practice. When I was working as a hygienist, and looking for a change in my career, I came up with a few alternatives. I was thinking about going back to college and studying to be a dentist. I also had the idea of doing an MBA or some other business degree and moving completely out of hygiene. But with a pile of student loan debt, I was unsure about what to do, and for a while there, I was actually too afraid to do anything.

But I was lucky enough to hear about myofunctional therapy, and the training available at the time seemed like a far easier option than years of going back to school. So I resolved to take action, and I did. I attended the training course, but then I defaulted to staying in hygiene while I tentatively explored being a therapist. I didn’t make too much progress until I finally decided to take action again, which is when I quit dental hygiene to practice myofunctional therapy full-time.

That wasn’t easy, and I certainly don’t recommend it for everyone. In fact, in those early days, I thought I’d made a terrible mistake. In time however, those two action steps proved to have been the very best things I could have done. I’m so happy with my practice now but without them, I’m not sure where I’d be or what I’d be doing.

That’s been the case over and over. I’d wanted to start teaching other dental hygienists how to break free and improve their careers too, but for the longest time, I was stuck in a trap that we all fall into – trying to get everything “perfect” before I got started.  But chasing perfection does nothing but hold us back.

Then, one day in 2014 I took action again, and the results have been fantastic. I’ve just finished my fifth mentoring program, with the next one due to start early in January next year. I’ve been so fortunate to meet wonderful hygienists from all over the world, and their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I have to say I love mentoring hygienists. It’s fulfilling and fun, and I learn so much from each program and every student.

So, if there’s a message in this article, and a moral to the story – it’s just this: You have to take action if you want to move forward. Some action is better than none, and the bigger the change you want to bring into your life, the more urgent that action has to be.

But it doesn’t have to be a huge, dramatic decision. For me, just taking that original myofunctional therapy course changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then.

I’d urge you to take one action today that’ll get you started to improving your life in some way. It doesn’t have to be anything to do with your career, it could be health-related, or revolve around your relationship or family, but whatever you do, do something. Your life will change if you do, I can promise you that.

 

Sleep Apnea On The High Intensity Health Podcast

As many of you will know, I love being able to spread the message about myofunctional therapy, and all the ways it can be used to help treat and ease so many health conditions. So I was incredibly excited to be asked to appear on Mike Mutzel’s High Intensity Health podcast recently.

Mike's podcast is described as "The Best of Fitness, Nutrition and Functional Medicine", and I think he covers all those topics very well! He's a great interviewer with a real wealth of knowledge. He made me feel very relaxed and comfortable, so I had a lot of fun.

We went over a number of interesting topics that are important to me including sleep apnea, the microbiome and mouth breathing among others, all of which can make a big difference to health and well-being. I hope you enjoy watching this video of the podcast - the interview was professionally filmed, so the production quality is really high.

If you have any questions, comments or other feedback, I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to leave a comment below, or to drop me a note right here

Awareness

I can usually tell within the first few weeks of working with a patient, how the next six months to a year of their treatment will play out. There are of course a number of factors to take into account, but what I can tell you for sure is that patients who display higher levels of self-awareness get better results. They may not do the exercises perfectly, they may not practice every day (although they know that’s not good), and they may struggle more than some of the people I work with, but having self-awareness gets them further than any exercise ever will.

In fact, the concept of “Awareness” has become a cornerstone of my practice. We could have our patients practice Button Pull or Spray Bottle exercises 10 times a day, but if they don’t have awareness of their tongue and mouth, their progress in treatment will be slow. They’re also more likely to hit plateaus in their progress after only the first four to six weeks, and to struggle in the long run.

Let’s take two of my patients for example – Shyla and Emily.

Both girls were seven years old at the time of treatment, and both had thumb-sucking habits. The biggest difference between them was that one had more awareness about her mouth and habits than the other.

Shyla began treatment with me in order to help her eliminate her thumb sucking habit. She was very dedicated with the Thumb Therapy, and was able to quit her sucking habit within just a few days. When it came to the exercises that followed Thumb Therapy, she was one of my most diligent patients. She practiced at least twice a day, and her mom was so dedicated to helping her with the exercises that they incorporated them into her home school study routine. They were a shining example of how I wished every family practiced the exercises, and I was always impressed by their commitment.

However, after all that hard work and persistence, Shyla’s mom was still constantly catching her with her mouth open – a sign that her habits weren’t changing and that the exercises weren’t having the desired effect. Shyla struggled with the general concept of awareness. So while she was an expert at practicing, she wasn’t entirely able to grasp the concept or “big picture” of the treatment.

Now let’s look at Emily. She also started working with me because of a thumb sucking habit, and she was also able to quit that habit within the first few days and never look back. The difference was that Emily wasn’t all that great at doing her exercises. She normally practiced once a day, and her mom often let her do the exercises on her own. Sometimes when we met for appointments, she clearly hadn’t mastered the exercises I had assigned, and had to repeat them.

However, Emily was somehow able to develop an awareness of her tongue and mouth much more easily than Shyla. Her habits changed far quicker because she was aware of her tongue and mouth all day long, not just while practicing. She was able to catch herself when her mouth was open, and correct the habit every time.

The moral of this story is not that one girl was a good patient, and the other a bad patient. I believe that the point is much more about highlighting the differences in their learning styles and personalities.

As myofunctional therapists, we need to keep in mind that our patients are all so different, and that what works for one may not work for another.

From what I have experienced with my own patients, the subject of awareness is where these differences really become apparent. My therapy program has evolved to the point where I emphasize this concept starting with the first session. I believe that awareness is the key to success in any therapy program, and without it, patients will not get the best results.
Some people have it innately, and others must be taught.

So how do we teach our patients awareness? These are three of my go-to methods to make sure that patients get this concept from the start.

1.    Talk about the big picture right up front. I tell patients on the first day that my goal is to help them learn three things – nasal breathing, proper tongue placement, and keeping their mouth closed.

This may seem obvious, and of course we all know there is more to it than that, but the awareness message is what’s important here. I want my patients to know starting on day one that they need to have a closed mouth rather than an open mouth. So I tell them. I even repeat it a few times, and ask them to repeat it back to me. With younger patients, I make sure the parents get this concept as well. Then I make sure they understand that the exercises are there to help them reach that goal. Simply perfecting and doing the exercises won’t get them where they need to be.

2.    Encourage ongoing discussions about breathing, how our mouths should rest, and even about other people’s mouths. I want my patients to make this a topic of general family conversation, for example:
“Do you see dad’s mouth is open? We better tell him to close it” or “Wow, your sister is breathing through her nose, what a great job”. If children can get used to recognizing characteristics that are considered “good” and “bad” in other people, this will eventually translate into self-awareness in the same area. For adults, this is a subtler process but I still encourage this type of interaction with a spouse or friend if appropriate.

3.    Ask patients to track themselves every day, and have a routine around it before bed. This is a really simple exercise that has improved treatment results by leaps and bounds. The first step is getting people to think in generalized percentages.

For adults, this concept is a little easier, but children can have productive discussions with their parents as well. I ask people to write down the percentage of total time they believe their mouth was closed during the day. It may be as low as five percent but at least they’re aware of how they’re doing. This evening routine of choosing a percentage and writing it down is very powerful because patients will eventually see improvements and appreciate their own progress. The goal of this exercise is not actually the number itself, it’s really just about getting patients to become more aware of their habits.

As you can see, awareness is a huge piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating our patients and changing their habits for good. Anyone can learn awareness with a little help, and I hope these techniques will assist you when it comes to your own patients and developing their awareness.