Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy and Bell’s Palsy

Bell’s palsy is a paralysis or weakness of the muscles on one side of the face. Damage to the facial nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face causes that side of the face to droop. The nerve damage may also affect the sense of taste, the closure of that eye, and how tears and saliva are made. This condition comes on suddenly, often overnight, and often gets better on its own within a few weeks.

Bell’s palsy is not the result of a stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA). While stroke and TIA can cause facial paralysis, there is no link between Bell’s palsy and either of these conditions. Sudden weakness that occurs on one side of the face should be checked by a doctor right away to rule out more serious issues.

What causes Bell’s palsy?

The cause of Bell’s palsy is not clear. Most cases are thought to be caused by the herpes virus that causes cold sores. In most cases of Bell’s palsy, the nerve that controls muscles on one side of the face is damaged by inflammation.

Many health problems can cause weakness or paralysis of the face. If a specific reason cannot be found for the weakness, the condition is called Bell’s palsy.

SYMPTOMS

  • Sudden weakness or paralysis on one side of your face that causes it to droop. This is the main symptom. It may make it hard for you to close your eye on that side of your face.
  • Drooling.
  • Eye problems, such as excessive tearing or a dry eye.
  • Loss of ability to taste.
  • Pain in or behind your ear.
  • Numbness in the affected side of your face.
  • Increased sensitivity to sound.

Patients with Bell’s palsy are evaluated for muscle function of the tongue, lips and jaw. Myofunctional therapy is retraining the musculature to return to as normal as possible. Orofacial myofunctional therapy is exercise-based and can be successful in helping the patient regain much of the natural muscle movement for smiling, chewing, swallowing and speaking.


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