WHAT IS A LIP STIMULATOR?
The lip stimulator is an oval-shaped device comprising an upper and lower front band. It acts in the back buccal vestibule area stimulating the orbicular muscles of the mouth. This stimulation causes the lips to draw together, which in turn produces the lengthening of the upper lip, thereby helping to correct labial incompetence. Indirectly, lip closing exercises cause the tongue to be posteriorly repositioned, an optimal tongue position to initiate the re-education of atypical deglutition.
Lip stimulators are indicated for patients with labial incom-petence (parted lips at rest), with short upper lip (gingival smile), and/or with atypical deglutition involving forward tongue thrust and tongue pressure on the incisors.
WHEN AND HOW TO USE A LIP STIMULATOR?
Guidelines to ensure that the lip stimulator is correctly used:
1. The dental arch perimeter between the first permanent molars measurement is taken from the patient’s mouth or from the mold of the patient’s dental configuration.
2. The adequate lip stimulator size is chosen based on this measurement. In case of doubt, select a smaller device than your measured size.
3. Once the lip stimulator is placed on the mouth, the patient will start exercising the lip muscles without being instructed by the health professional. This indicates that lip stimulation is working and the patient is able to achieve a competent lip seal.
4. A night-time regimen is indicated. Initially, and to get used to wearing the device, the patient may use it only during the day and at home.
5. To re-educate a low, forward tongue position the following points must be taken into account:
a) Remove any possible obstacle that may prevent tongue repositioning: lingual frenulum.
b) The lip stimulator is used until the tongue has repositioned itself backwards.
c) Bond several lingual buttons on to the surface of incisors or canines to stimulate the anterior palatal surface, and thereby promote tongue tip elevation. In some cases, a dental floss may be wound around a button and extended towards a second button to obtain a more focused stimulation.
d) After three months, bond several lingual buttons on to the surface of premolar teeth (stimulation of the posterior palatal surface) to help the dorsal surface of the tongue rise towards the palate during deglutition.
The following effects resulting from the use of this device will be noticeable after four to six months of continuous use:
a) Competent lip seal (labial competence)
b) Lengthening of the upper lip
c) Backwards repositioning of the tongue. This is achieved through the lip closing exercises, performed with half-open mouth, which stimulate the muscles that reposition the tongue at rest to a normal position.
The lip stimulator comes in six sizes, numbered from one to six. The smaller sizes are used in the pediatric popula-tion, while the larger sizes have been designed for use in adult patients.
The device’s oval-shaped upper and lower front bands have a stimulating effect on the orbicular muscles due to their shape rather than to any force they exert. This is the reason why it is important to ensure that the correct stimulator size is being used.
Continuous use of the lip stimulator has reported relevant clinical results related to lip shape and position enhance-ment. The device is thereby highly indicated as a facial aesthetic treatment to increase lip muscle tone.
This medical device may be used in combination with fixed orthodontic appliances.