… a dental hygienist, Carol Vander Stoep, … told me I was “tongue tied” and that it might be affecting my health. I was surprised, so I obtained an evaluation by Joy Moeller, the leading orofacial myologist in the US, and she confirmed it. So I consulted with her and started on some mouth exercises and in less than a week I noticed a remarkable improvement in my time in deep sleep as objectively measured by the Zeo. The program takes about one year to change the muscles and increase the size of the oral cavity to decrease obstructive sleep apnea, but I actually may have been suffering from this my whole life and never knew it. I will certainly keep you posted of my progress.
Although this therapy is widely known in Brazil, it is relatively unheard of in the US. As Joy explains:
“Myofunctional therapy, also called orofacial myology, is the neuromuscular re-education or re-patterning of the oral and facial muscles. It might include muscle exercises, which create a normal freeway space dimension. Therapists are trained to eliminate negative oral habits through behavior modification techniques and promote positive growth patterns. We train people to breathe through their noses if their airways are not compromised, and if the oral breathing is an acquired habit; we teach people how to properly position their tongue at rest; we teach how to chew and swallow correctly, and we emphasize the importance of proper head and neck posture patterns.
…Therapy usually starts with establishing nasal airway (after clearance from an ENT and an Allergist) and developing a lip seal. If a patient habitually breathes through his/her mouth, the tongue rests down and the mandible drops down and back. The palate, in turn, might not develop correctly. A good myofunctional therapist will assist the patient to clear his/her nose, use correct abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing, and then establish habitual nasal breathing.”…
Not only can retraining your face muscles fix snoring and give you deeper sleep, it can also straighten your teeth:
My braces have pushed my front teeth forward, giving my an overbite and I’ve been wearing a plastic retainer with rubber bands on the bottom teeth to bring them back, but the plastic irritates my throat. Now I’ve changed my lip position to move my front teeth with my own lips and tongue. After these braces are off, i’m hoping this can get rid of the need to wear a retainer every night.
I don’t own the Zeo, but I’ve noticed with an iPhone app called SleepTalk that I do snore a little occasionally. Retraining my swallowing and lip and tongue placement might be the miracle cure I’ve been seeking where Breathe Right strips don’t do the trick. I’m still experimenting with this and may see a specialist.