Back in the Cave Days we didn't have research...whatever that is...but Mun tells me it's really important to test and look at things in a scientific way. I guess he's right so I put him to work reading up about the Myo Munchee...
Research in health, particularly the facial growth, facial muscle, breathing and teeth straightening (orthodontics) worlds is an ever-growing and ever-evolving project. It's also a field of research that is hotly debated and contested by many people. The one conclusion is, that no-one can really come to the one conclusion!
Our thoughts on this are largely centred around the complexity of the topic, which we think relates to the complexity of the area of the body that the debate is centred around; the teeth, gums and jaws.
What do we know?
Most would agree that one of the complexities of working on this part of the body revolves around the fact that the area is so rich in nerve endings and that the function of the muscles and the processes involved are so important to our survival because they are the muscles and functions that involve speaking, eating, drinking and breathing.
Eating is a coordination between the teeth, the jaws, the senses and the tongue. The act of eating requires an enormous coordination of all these structures and more. Proper chewing of food also ensures the muscles of the face and jaws are utilised and proper swallowing ensures the tongue is used correctly.
Speaking is an incredible coordination between the vocal chords, breathing, tongue, lips and mental processes. Speech is in fact, one of the most complicated functions humans undertake, if you've ever spoken to an audience or class for a day you would notice how tiring it gets!
Drinking is similar to eating although involves much less action of the chewing muscles and more function of swallowing
Breathing is often something we don't always think about but is key to our survival. Breathing involves a mostly unconscious coordination of muscles and complex body chemistry and emotional regulation. Mouth breathing at rest has become an increasingly common and complex issue in society and has many health implications.
What about the research then?
Considering the above it's easy to see the challenges in researching and understanding the area as a whole due to the fact that to do a study well, we must isolate and test only one variable. Given that us humans are so varied it's no wonder then that the researchers, specialists, dentists and body workers debate the studies and the results. In fact, looking into the area thoroughly is a case of "down the rabbit hole".
Because of copyright, we can't put up actual research papers on this site if we don't have permission. So if you are super interested use Google Scholar to search for papers with key words such as: facial growth and development, mouth breathing, tongue thrust, reverse swallow, myofunctional therapy and dental growth appliances.
We do have permission to provide some great papers and a presentation though...
(Please note the authors who have kindly given us permission to use their material have no affiliation or alliance with the Myo Munchee or Myo Australia. Their work has been shared for educational purposes only)
Firstly let's start with our own Dr Kevin Bourke, his paper published in 1990. The effects of the Myo appliance in children with malocclusions of the primary dentition this is a great little summary by Dr Bourke of some of the research done in Japan in the late eighties at the time he was developing the Myo Munchee. During his life Dr Bourke was an avid attendee and presenter at conferences one of his classic papers/presentations "Oral Physiotherapy" can be read here. Among many things, this paper discussed the idea of the Myo as a "Chewing Brush".
There are many claims about mouth breathing and the effect of it on a number of processes. Dr Rosalba Courtney has done a great deal of research into the area and has a great overview article you can read here.
Snoring is a major problem for kids and something we think the Myo Munchee helps with. Dr David McIntosh an ENT surgeon, did a great slide presentation detailing the effects of snoring on children, easy to understand and great for parents and practitioners alike to read.
So just to start with, this is an incredible amount of writing and information! At Myo Australia we will continue to plan and undertake our own research to continue Dr Kevin's legacy and this requires a lot of work and dedication. In the meantime however, and with some of the points of these papers in mind, perhaps we should consider what we think is the effect of using the Myo Munchee on the systems mentioned above:
Eating: The Myo Munchee exercises, oxygenates and develops the muscles of chewing, helping them grow and helping the teeth stay healthy
Drinking: The Myo Munchee assist in correcting and establishing normal swallow patterns
Breathing: The My Munchee promotes strong lip seal and nasal breathing. Nasal breathing is the preferred mode of breathing at rest
Speaking: The Myo Munchee helps to correct poor tongue position and habits which can also influence speech and create problems like lisps.
We hope this little overview is useful, it's an ever-evolving and enlightening process to understand and work with this system of the body, we certainly don't claim to have all the answers but we strive to make our contribution valuable. If like us you want to read more in addition to the above, the following list of resources will also be helpful.
Dr Mary Bourke and Myo Australia