My Introduction to Myofunctional Therapy
Since graduating from the Dental Hygiene program at Utah Valley University in 2000, I have spent the last 15 years living in the Pacific Northwest. I was first introduced to myofunctional therapy when I began working as a hygienist for Dr. Maryam Motlagh, who specializes in temporomandibular disease. It was very educational and surprising to learn how many of our patients had significantly improved health through various modalities of treatment including myofunctional therapy. The more I learned about the astonishing benefits of this field, the more passionate I became about wanting to help improve the quality of life for my patients. I received my Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy certification in 2019 through Sarah Hornby’s Myomentor Institute.
During my certification process, I realized I also needed this exercised based therapy. I had been suffering from intermittent severe migraines which were intermingled with tension headaches that lasted for days. This had been going on for 15 years of my adult life! I was up to three to four migraines a week and was waking up nearly every day with a tension headache. In addition to headaches, my head posture was forward and I had neck and shoulder pain on a fairly consistent basis.
I had known for years that I had been clenching and grinding my teeth while I slept. My previous dentist years earlier had placed me in a night guard to prevent me from wearing down my teeth during the night but what I began noticing was the nights that I wore my night guard my headaches were often worse in the morning, so I stopped wearing it. I knew the grinding and clenching was giving me the headaches, I just didn’t know how to stop it. With myofunctional therapy I was learning there were solutions to these issues. Often other health professionals need to be apart of therapy, for me that is Dr Kathy Cantwell, a craniosacral chiropractor. Her treatment alongside myofunctional therapy is a crucial and healing combination. It was a relief to realize I didn’t have to live a life with ongoing pain and discomfort.
In conjunction with my myofunctional therapy training, I was introduced to Patrick McKeown’s book Close Your Mouth and Dr. Konstantin Buteyko’s 50 years of research on how breathing impacts our health. As I studied, I discovered that I was a mouth breather myself. Not an obvious mouth breather to the untrained eye, but a mouth breather nonetheless. As I continued on my journey with therapy, I did a sleep test and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. Many aspects of my life began clicking into place as I began realizing I had experienced so many of the signs and symptoms common with dysfunctional breathing pattern disorders.
I realized so many of the health issues I had suffered with during my life could have been prevented by correct breathing techniques and developing strong functional muscles of the face and oral cavity. It seems like such a simple concept to just breathe through your nose, yet what I learned as I addressed my own symptoms is it can be challenging to change the way we breathe. But it is 100% possible though and the results are transformative!
Learning to breathe right has changed my life!
Now that I am treating patients of my own, I feel even more passionate about the value of myofunctional therapy. It is astonishing to realize how many people are suffering needlessly and one of the root causes of many serious health issues is breathing pattern disorders. It is never too late to begin breathing right for a healthier happier life!
Outside of work, I find inspiration by being out in nature. Hiking, snowshoeing and kayaking are some of my favorite activities as I explore the beautiful places in this world. Art and design are another passion of mine and these days involve painting landscapes en plein air with pastels and painting expressive abstracts with oils.
One of the activities that motivates me the most is volunteering as a women self defense instructor through the Portland City Police Department. When you teach a skill that empowers another person's life and are able to visibly watch a spark come alive in them as they become more confident and sure of themselves, the feeling is priceless!
Personal Experience With MFT
Breathe Right, Change Your Life.