Sleep and Breathing

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 1025–1032 | Cite as

Can myofunctional therapy increase tongue tone and reduce symptoms in children with sleep-disordered breathing?

  • Maria Pia VillaEmail author
  • Melania Evangelisti
  • Susy Martella
  • Mario Barreto
  • Marco Del Pozzo
Pediatrics • Original Article



Data in the literature suggest that myofunctional therapy (MT) may be able to play a role in the treatment of children with sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Our study investigated the effectiveness of MT in reducing respiratory symptoms in children with SDB by modifying tongue tone.


Polysomnographic recordings were performed at baseline to assess obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) severity in 54 children (mean age 7.1 ± 2.5 years, 29 male) with SDB. Patients were randomly assigned to either the MT or no-MT group. Myofunctional evaluation tests, an assessment of tongue strength, tongue peak pressure, and endurance using the Iowa Oral Performance Instrument (IOPI), and nocturnal pulse oximetry were performed before (T0) and after (T1) 2 months of treatment.


MT reduced oral breathing (83.3 vs 16.6%, p < 0.0002) and lip hypotonia (78 vs 33.3%, p < 0.003), restored normal tongue resting position (5.6 vs 33.4%, p < 0.04), and significantly increased mean tongue strength (31.9 ± 10.8 vs 38.8 ± 8.3, p = 0.000), tongue peak pressure (34.2 ± 10.2 vs 38.1 ± 7.0, p = 0.000), and endurance (28.1 ± 8.9 vs 33.1 ± 8.7, p = 0.01) in children with SDB. Moreover, mean oxygen saturation increased (96.4 ± 0.6 vs 97.4 ± 0.7, p = 0.000) and the oxygen desaturation index decreased (5.9 ± 2.3 vs 3.6 ± 1.8, p = 0.001) after MT.


Oropharyngeal exercises appear to effectively modify tongue tone, reduce SDB symptoms and oral breathing, and increase oxygen saturation, and may thus play a role in the treatment of SDB.


Children Obstructive sleep apnea Myofunctional therapy Oropharyngeal exercises 


Compliance with ethical standards

Funding source

There were no sources of funding or support for this research.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

None of the authors has any relevant financial activities outside the submitted manuscript (over the 3 years prior to submission).

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Additional informed consent was obtained from all individual participants for whom identifying information is included in this article.

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Pia Villa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melania Evangelisti
    • 1
  • Susy Martella
    • 1
  • Mario Barreto
    • 1
  • Marco Del Pozzo
    • 1
  1. 1.Pediatric Unit Sant’Andrea Hospital, NESMOS Department, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology“Sapienza” UniversityRomeItaly

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