Purpose: To examine the effect of a home orofacial exercise program on increasing oral aperture among adults with systemic sclerosis (SSc).
Method: Forty-eight adults with SSc were assigned randomly to the multifaceted oral-health intervention or usual dental care control group. Participants with an oral aperture of <40 mm in the intervention group received an orofacial exercise program, which included daily manual mouth-stretching and oral-augmentation exercises twice a day with a total of 6 minutes for 6 months. The outcome measure was oral aperture which was measured at baseline, 3-months, and 6-months intervals.
Results: A significantly larger increase in oral aperture for participants received the orofacial exercise program was found when compared to those in the usual care at 3 months (P = 0.01), but not at 6-months evaluation. Participants' adherence rate to the exercise program was low (48.9%).
Conclusions: The orofacial exercise program intervention for adults with SSc and microstomia did not show significant improvement at 6 months. In addition to the low exercise adherence rate, insufficient frequencies, repetitions, and durations of the orofacial exercises may contribute to these results.