How Did I Get Here? The Wild and Somewhat Controversial Story of How I Built a Myofunctional Therapy Practice and Career

In Resilience, She's an Entrepreneur by Megan Van Noy

When I was 17 years old, I vividly remember being in the kitchen with my mom and she asked me what I thought about wanting to go to college to study. My sister had just decided on nursing school and I was starting my junior year of high school. Growing up I always thought I wanted to be a teacher. I loved helping people and guiding people. I loved mothering my little sisters (despiste my mom telling me I wasn’t the mom, she was) and may or may not have been called bossy (read: assertive) more than once. I liked being in charge. I am not going to pretend like I didn’t. I wanted to lead the team. I wanted to lead the class. I wanted to be the assistant manager at Baskin Robbins. I had no problem speaking up and defending someone when I needed to. However, speaking up to defend myself was a harder task entirely. I’ll go to bat for anyone, any day, but to do that for myself wasn’t something I learned to do until a decade later.


So I told my mom I wanted to be a teacher and she looked me dead in the eyes and said you need to pick something else that you can financially support yourself in. She told me she regretted not finding something when she was in college that she could eventually support herself in because my dad always said he would be the breadwinner. It was the 80’s, that was the societal norm right? However, in the 90’s my dad made some sketchy financial decisions with my grandfather and most of my childhood is marked with we never had enough. We were always scraping by. My parents couldn’t come on a softball trip with me because they could only afford for me to go. Or they coached and luckily they were good coaches, so they could have their way paid and didn’t have to send us alone. My mom worked tirelessly in jewelry retail to make sure that we always had what we needed and more. Even though I always heard about the financial stresses, I never went without. So when I wanted a career that was not well-known for making good money, my mom pushed me to think otherwise. In all fairness, even though I am not in that career anymore, I’m glad she did. Without it I wouldn’t be where I am today. 


My mom said, you should look at being a dental hygienist. Your aunt is a dental assistant, but the hygienists make more money and they get to run their own schedules and have flexibility to have a family. (LOL to what we thought we knew. If you know you know.) I thought about what she said and I do like helping people. I do like teeth. I do like the idea of working with a small group of people and having one-on-one time with patients to get to know them. I decided to job shadow and I job shadowed two hygienists who 15 years later I still adore. Randomly enough, after I graduated hygiene school I actually worked with both of them! I loved that we came full circle. After job shadowing, I thought to myself, I like this. I could do this. I’m going to do this. I graduated high school, started by prerequisites, and applied to one of the top programs in the nation at that time. Went to the group interviews, felt pretty confident, but everyone told me that you don’t get in your first time, so don’t worry, just keep trying. I had plans to study abroad and learn Spanish and I was going to work and maybe work on another degree until it was my turn to get it. Low and behold I got in on my first try. In my mind the universe was just telling me that it was meant to be. Meant for me. If you have been to dental hygiene school then I don’t even have to describe that experience. If you have not, count your blessings. Just kidding, I am very grateful for the experience, because again without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today.


As a fresh dental hygiene graduate, I went out there and applied for every job I could find on Craigslist. It was 2012, that was where you found jobs. I did 5 working interviews in one week. I was offered all 5 jobs and I felt like I was on Cloud 9. I picked the one with the most hours and the people I liked the most. 11 years ago and I still feel warm and fuzzy about my very first dental co-workers. They still cheer me on even though it has been a decade since we worked together. 


However, the job itself wasn’t the dream I painted a picture of in my head. The end of every day ended in headaches. I never got lunch. I was always waiting for exams. Patients didn’t want x-rays. Patients had never been told they have periodontal disease before. Patients always asked if I was too young to be a hygienist or how long I have been doing this. My hands hurt. My jaw hurt. My head hurt. My heart hurt. My coworkers were the only ones keeping me going. I thought to myself, “I’m too young to spend the rest of my life feeling this way.” I mentioned my headaches and jaw pain to my doctor and he asked me what I thought was a very weird question at the time, “Where’s your tongue at?” To which I probably responded with something along the lines of “umm what?” He proceeded to let me in on a secret that I had never heard before and spoiler alert make a living on now, that your tongue should live in the roof of your mouth. My mind was blown. I couldn’t believe it. I’m pretty sure my response was, “Yeah my tongue has never even met the roof of my mouth.”


So I started trying it. A small tweak that didn’t make all of my symptoms disappear, but I noticed a difference. I noticed a change. I thought to myself there’s something to this. At the time, he told me that the tongue training was only something speech therapists did. Spoiler alert: hi, it’s me, I run a whole business around this. But to be fair, at the time, he didn’t know. 


As I continued my dental hygiene job I got more and more burnout and beat down. I thought to myself this can’t be what the rest of my life is going to be. My first thought was, maybe it’s the office I’m in. So I left. I started at smaller practice where the doctor adored me. It felt amazing! The office manager became a wonderful mentor and friend to me. She still is to this day. However, I traded micromanagement for OSHA violations, unethical diagnostics, and an office that couldn’t keep an assistant to save its life. In the 10 months I was there, I’m pretty sure we went through 12 assistants and I am not exaggerating. Again, I sat there thinking man, this is not what I signed up for. I went to Craigslist – again – and found an ad for a course on myofunctional therapy. It spoke to me even though I didn’t totally get what it was. I reached out to the course director and she gave me some vague information that I still wasn’t sure of but I thought back to my first office and what I know about the tongue and I knew this was something I wanted to pursue. Financially, I was afraid to take the leap. 

At the same time, I got a call from a friend who was working for a doctor looking for a new hygienist. He was the nicest guy. He treats his hygienists well. He gives bonuses. He doesn’t micromanage. He has had staff for 10 years. So I thought, okay, now we are talking! I interviewed and got the job. After my 90 days, I would get all the things I was promised. However, about 60 days in he cut the tip of his thumb off. It was reattached. It healed. He still practices, but he had to take 3 months off. So what did that mean for me?


I wasn’t given the bonus that I was promised, I wasn’t given health insurance, I couldn’t be given raises even though I was producing double the amount and brought the office from 10% periodontal treatment to almost 50% periodontal treatment, the office manager was embezzling money. You name it and I knew in my heart this would never be where I wanted to be. 


At the same time, the myofunctional therapy course teacher reached out to me and told me that this would be the last course she taught for hygienists and was going to start only teaching dentists. So I took the leap. I told my doctor that I was doing this training on myofunctional therapy and it could really help our patients. I talked to him about renting the office on days off. I showed him the ADHA scope of practice. I was so excited! When I first started the training he seemed excited for me. When I went to launch my practice 4 months later, he told me that he didn’t think I should be allowed to run my own business. I was shocked. I was devastated. I said that the fact that I am a human with a pulse means that I can run my own business. So the next week he fired me. 


The first time I felt like I truly stood up for myself and fully believed in what I was doing and he fired me. I was embarrassed. I was beyond mad. I was mad at my coworkers who knew he was going to fire me and didn’t tell me because I thought they were my family. I felt alone. I felt ashamed. I felt abandoned by them. It was truly heartbreaking. So I grieved it and I moved on. 


After my firing, I found another office that was recommended to me by my best friend’s friend because his wife worked there as the other hygienist and all good things. I love his wife. We are still good friends. I live around the corner from them, so I am glad I took that leap, but guess what? This practice was bought by a doctor who was previously an associate for a corporate group and the staff loved her so much they all followed. Well as you can imagine, the relationships change when you go from being an associate/coworker to a boss and it was not a great transition. She lost pretty much all of her staff over the course of the next year except the ones who perpetuated the drama. If you stood up for yourself to the office manager, you’d hear about something that you didn’t do from the doctor the next day and find yourself getting reprimanded. 

At the same time, I found a very generous orthodontist who let me rent his office for $150 a month. So generous and started my myofunctional therapy practice. No one was going to tell me I couldn’t pursue my dreams! Remember those original coworkers who I love to this day? Well, one of them had her sons be my first patients. She believed in me and I could not be more grateful. My dad was my other first patient! I had to convince my parents somehow that at 26, only 4 years into my dental hygiene career, that I wanted to do something different. Guess who stopped snoring for the first time in 20 years? Yeah, they were convinced. Plus my mentor who I took the myofunctional therapy course from needed an associate and she offered me the position. I knew this was meant to be and I had to keep building. Dental hygiene by day, myofunctional therapy by night, day off, Saturday morning. Whatever it took. I went to all sorts of offices during lunch on my days off and brought treats and referrals. I was doing lunch and learns at orthodontic offices. I was pounding the pavement to get more and more patients to build my practice. I was seeing patients as an associate on Skype and I kept building. 


During my time at that new office, my dad suffered a traumatic brain injury. He needed several smaller brain surgeries to prepare him for the big one in October 2017. We went into it pretty confident that it would all be smooth sailing and it was not. After his 12 hour surgery he had cerebral hemorrhaging twice in 72 hours and required emergency surgeries. They placed him in a medically induced coma and after a week they tried to bring him back out and he didn’t wake up. While in his coma, he had an infection in his cerebral spinal fluid, he had a front lobe stroke that they forgot to tell us about, after 21 days they told us we need to start considering end of life procedures. 


All the while, I am working as a hygienist, seeing myofunctional therapy patients, spending 5-6 days a week in the evenings at the hospital waiting for him to wake up. 


He woke up on Day 27 and we had no idea what his deficits would be. We had no idea what he would be like. We had no idea of anything. We just had to wait.


In the background of all my grind, I needed a break. I needed something positive and I chose to go out for a coworkers birthday and take a night off. This will likely come as no surprise to you as you have read my story but the next week, my doctor told me she didn’t like the way I was grieving my father and that she didn’t think it would be a good fit for me to work at the office anymore. She gave me a two weeks’ notice. To which I laughed and told her that she can’t give me a two weeks notice and legally she should have my check ready to go right then and there. 


I honestly can’t make this stuff up anymore. So there I was, Dad recently coming out of a coma, Mom having no idea what we were going to do. How we were going to survive. How we were going to afford his care. So what did I do? 


Kept building my practice. Kept working for my mentor. She had dangled a lot of ideas and carrots in front of me that if I keep working hard and paying my dues then eventually a higher paying role would come for me. 

And of course, I got another dental hygiene job. This time in a pediatric office. They learned I did myofunctional therapy. They would love to have me work with their patients. They were starting to do tongue tie releases. What a good fit! So, of course I took it. And found out real quickly, that they did not want an assertive hygienist who can do it all and who knew more about tongue ties, myofunctional therapy, and airways than they did. They wanted someone who would just nod their head yes and do what they say. At this point, I’m hoping you guys have guessed it, that was not me. Any time I asked for feedback on how we could work together better, I was told things like, you are administering local anesthesia in 9 minutes and we really need it in 8 minutes. When I helped a kid pick out a movie from the drawer and would bend over, you could see down my scrub jacket (Gross, who is looking for that?), and that they needed me there 3 minutes earlier in the morning to prepare for the day. So guess what happened the day after Christmas during the busiest time of the year, the day before my 1 year mark where I would earn another week of vacation. Fired again. You guys, I cannot make this up.


Luckily, for me, my myofunctional therapy practice was really taking off. I was getting 3-5 new patients every month. I was taking on more patients from my mentor, because she stopped seeing patients and no longer was taking any on. I was seeing all the patients and she was teaching. I was focused on her practice and growing mine. 2019 was going to be my year! I was getting so many contact forms daily and growing more and more. I started mentoring the graduates from my mentor’s training program. My reputation was building. All was good. 


I gave myself 2 months to decide if I really wanted to find a part-time dental hygiene job. My dad was still struggling. My mom was still needing help. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go all in or if I could. So I got real picky and interviewed several places and I found an office that had the wife as the office manager. Again, if you know you know. Now let me tell you, this office was the only exception to the rule I have ever seen. This man was 73 years old. No plans to retire before 75. His wife was a dental assistant prior, so they knew how to treat staff. He’d say things like, “I like bossy women, so I’m glad you are here.” He’d tell patients when they would put up resistance to anything we say that, “She’s the boss. If she’s saying it then you better listen.” I felt so validated. I felt so seen. He was into sleep apnea treatments, so I asked him if I could talk about myofunctional therapy and he said to me, “I don’t care. Tell them about your sh*t. You are smarter than me when it comes to this stuff.” What a man. What a boss. 


However, I found myself at a crossroad. My practice was getting so busy. I couldn’t do both anymore. I was growing and I was ready to hang up my scalers. I didn’t want to leave him in a lurch if he was going to retire. So I wasn’t sure what to do. Then December came and he called me into his office, looked me in the eyes, and told me he was done. He said the last 3 months he was dreading getting out of bed in the morning and he always told himself when that day came, he was going to retire. He told me I was one of the best hygienists he has ever had and he can’t wait to see me grow in my career. I shared with him the struggle I had been having about wanting to be done and in my practice full time, but I didn’t want to leave them hanging. He said to me, “This is your sign. Go do what you are meant to do. We fully support you.”


Bless that man and his retirement. I’m glad I met him at the end of my career because I would have worked for him forever. 

So in January 2020, I was no longer a practicing dental hygienist. I was a full time practice owning myofunctional therapist. I was growing in my mentoring. I was growing in seeing patients. My mentor kept telling me about all these opportunities she was going to create for me. I had all the faith in the world that it was all finally coming together. 


In March, literally the week before the world shut down, I represented Myo Munchee at a conference and met my now favorite human and podcast co-host, Kimi, and we decided to create the Munch Bunch podcast. A public facing educational podcast that got the word about myofunctional therapy and airway to the masses. I loved it. I still love it. 3 years going strong with the Munch Bunch and we are even hosting our first retreat in November 2023. It is the highlight of my week when we recorded episodes. We’ve had the most amazing guests come on our show. We’ve had patients share their stories. It’s powerful. It’s beautiful.


In May 2020, a little surprise ended up inside me and I found out that I was pregnant with a little girl. It rocked my world. I had not planned for that one. Motherhood was always something I desired, but she came earlier than I was expecting. So as I was going through my pregnancy, I was still growing my practice. I hired my own associate and I was finding a lot of success. At the time, my mentor and I were talking about how well I was doing and then when I was 7 months pregnant, maybe 8? She reached out and said she wanted to take her portion of the practice back, but wanted to hire me as the manager at a salary. With my daughter on the way and being very pregnant, with really no option, it seemed like a good idea. I didn’t have to worry every month about whether or not I’d sign up enough patients and it would just be easy and flow. It would open me up to more opportunities. So I accepted.


Low and behold, the role was not what I signed up for. We spoke of maternity leave and that I would still be paid, but instead she was too busy to fill in for me, so I only got 3 weeks. I had to see patients upstairs on Zoom in my childhood bedroom while my mother took care of my newborn downstairs for me 3 days a week. I had to see patients while she napped. After she fell asleep at night. I spiraled into a deep postpartum depression and felt like I was drowning every day. My patient care coordinator who was hired to help me wasn’t trained, so she didn’t know how to take things off my plate, but she was the emotional support I needed to survive. Suicidal ideation wasn’t beyond me at that point. I just wanted to take care of my baby. When I reached out for support to my mentor, 8 weeks postpartum, I was met with “I’m too busy in this new joint venture and they are ruining my life. Frankly, the side of the business you are on doesn’t make me enough money to really care about it.” My livelihood. My heart and soul that I built that I had taken away from me. My finances were cut in half. Instead, I was told she needed help. She couldn’t pay me, but I needed to take a more active role in her training program every week and be there every week live on Zoom to help and it would help boost my reputation. Again, I was just paying my dues for something bigger later on. If I wanted to make more money, we could go 50/50, but I was in charge of figuring out what that was. I wasn’t a bookkeeper. I didn’t have access to the accounts, but if I wanted to get paid (which was never on time) then that’s what I had to do. So I did the best I could. I wanted to leave. I wanted a way out but I was so connected at that point and so deep into the postpartum depression, I didn’t know how. So I soldiered on. And it got worse and worse. I cried every day. Every night. I fell apart at the seams. I asked for help. I begged for help. I was always met with I just don’t have the capacity to help you right now, because everyone else is ruining my life. 


I was told I needed to spend money to go to a conference that I wasn’t sure I could afford at that time, but I needed to be there to support her. But I couldn’t say no and I couldn’t be paid ahead to make sure I could go. At the conference, any time I tried to set something up or do some sort of networking, I was denied. Then the next day, I’d hear that she ended up with this doctor and that doctor and she didn’t even think to invite me. I was shocked and confused. I had to leave my baby at home, again, to be there to support the business and then I was shut out of it. 


What was I doing? Is that the life I wanted? This wasn’t what I signed up for. When I got home I made a decision that I wanted to leave, but I was afraid. I was afraid to go back on my own, so I stayed a part of the conversations. Expressed my ideas and goals and guess what? I was told that we needed to focus on her ideas. And guess what again? I became the bad guy. I was accused of a lot of horrible things that I would never in a million years purposely do. I was accused of trying to do all sorts of things that aren’t even worth putting on paper because they are straight up lies. I was threatened. I was talked poorly about. I was told that I was going to be ruined by her. So I had to get a lawyer and it was devastating. Six years into this relationship and everything I did and sacrificed and waited for and just like that it was gone. 


The associates who worked for us were put in the middle. They were forced to pick sides. When they didn’t openly pick sides they were let go. It all came crashing down. 


I definitely thought about packing it in. I thought about this life and dream I had maybe wasn’t meant for me. I questioned every single thing about myself. Was I a monster? Am I actually a bad person? Did I really do all these things that I’m being accused of? Or was I just being gaslit. Again. For the 1 millionth time. Thank God for my friends and support system and therapist who was helping me through my PPD. They combated every single lie for me because I didn’t even know any more. I had lost myself and I didn’t know who I was. 

However, I did know that I was not made to give up. I was not made to let go of my hopes and dreams because someone else told me too. Haven’t I been here before? Now I had more skin in the game because of a little angel who just turned one year old and what was I going to show her. So I showed up. I reached out to my referral sources, to my people, to podcast listeners who needed help and continued in those relationships. I built my business back up. I brought on new associates. I had some that followed me and a treatment coordinator that came with because they know who I am as a person. 


Here I am a year later with a business that is thriving again. With goals and dreams that I love that I get to choose. Shoot, I’m hosting a retreat in the Dominican Republic in November for others who have been through the burn out. Who have been stuck. Who have been beat down and didn’t see a way out. Because I am not made for less. I am not made to quit. I’m made to believe in myself and I’m made to believe in you. When I reflect back to all the things that have happened to me and all the things I’ve been able to achieve I made a gratitude list. I’d encourage you to do the same. 


A list of things I never thought I’d do:

– Change Careers (Only 4 Years Into My Dental Hygiene Days)

– I’d Put Down My Dental Hygiene Scalers Only 8 Years In

– Own My Own Business That Sustains Itself in Less Than 5 Years

– Travel the World – India, Haiti, England, Mexico, Canada, So Many States, and More On the Books!

– Own a Virtual Telehealth Practice with Associates

– Make My Own Schedule

– Mentor Others Awesome Hygienists Ready for Change

– Start a Podcast with a Lifelong Friend

– Create and Teach Courses

– Create Lasting friendships Across the Globe

– Be Able to be a Mom and Run a Business

– Drink My Coffee Every Morning and Play with My Daughter to Leisurely Start Our Day

– Be Able to Put Her to Bed Almost Every Night of the Week

– Empower Other Mom’s in Their Journeys Through Motherhood to Advocate for Themselves and Their Babies

– Help Others Chase Their Dreams and Have Success


So if you need a pick me up today or a story of resilience, I got it in spades. The darkest days of my life and the most proud all in here. If you need support or are struggling with a story that is similar, know that I am here for you and in a more real way am here to hear your story. Please share it with me. If you think you want to come to the retreat and bust through burnout and breakdown limiting beliefs I’m here for that too!


Just know that you are never alone. Just know that your people are out there. You may just not have met them yet. 


Reach out to me via email:

Learn more about my practice here:

Follow me on Social Media: Instagram: xonotjustamom or NWFMT or The Munch Bunch Podcast 

Find me on Facebook: Megan Van Noy

Listen to The Munch Bunch Podcast on Spotify or Apple


We are available to you in every possible way!