Innovators special feature: Dr Chris Farrell

Dr Chris Farrell, founder of Myofunctional Research Co.
Dr Chris Farrell, founder of Myofunctional Research Co.

‘‘We started 25 years ago with the realisation that in order to satisfy evolving patient demands, the orthodontic industry needed innovative new ideas,” says Dr Chris Farrell about his company, Myofunctional Research Co. “After living and studying in the UK, I returned to Australia in 1986 having gained extensive knowledge about TMJ disorder, which prompted me to open a practice in Queensland. During the next two or three years, it became a functional orthodontic practice because more and more parents wanted to know about preventive treatment for their children.” A partnership with the Queensland University of Technology followed and this collaboration enabled Dr Farrell’s company to research and develop new advanced dental technology. “Through the engineering faculty at QUT—who at the time were the first to be using stereolithography and Computer Assisted Design—we were able to use programs to design appliances. We were the first ones to do that in the early 1990s.” The first invention produced by the Myofunctional Research Co. was the TMJ Appliance. “I had a lot of patients coming from all over Australia—from a lot of remote areas of Queensland—and we thought, ‘How can we service these patients better with some immediate solution to the problem?’ So, I designed the TMJ Appliance, which was the first CAD designed prefabricated appliance on the market.” Dr Farrell named the company ‘myofunctional’ because he believes the problem with TMJ disorder as well as other orthodontic issues are most often caused by incorrect muscle function or myofunctional dysfunction.“The greatest breakthrough for us was understanding that all orthodontic complications stem from myofunctional problems,” says Dr Farrell. “A lot of orthodontists didn’t agree with me then, and they still don’t agree now, but the reason the appliances work is because they correct dysfunctional oral habits.” Dr Farrell realised the introduction of innovative myofunctional orthodontic treatments would require instruction and so he launched an educational program aimed towards simplifying his preventive treatment systems. “I’ve learnt from many people, both in Europe and USA—there is so much knowledge—and my aim has always been to funnel that knowledge into a practical application,” he says. “Our education program streamlines everything using modern technology.” Myofunctional Research Co. is now the industry leader in using 3D and 2D animation. “I was fascinated with 3D animation when I first saw it in early 2000, and we applied this technology to the patient education component of our treatment. A good example of this is our nutrition video which is completely animated and we’ve just produced a new, completely animated training program for the Myobrace System,” explains Dr Farrell. The final frontier is educating other professionals. “We have a global education program for dentists and orthodontists, again integrating video and 3D animations. We sell that to over 100 countries and our lectures are held around the world to packed audiences. The program equips professionals with the knowledge to implement the Myobrace System into their practice as well as integrate MRC’s practice layout, design and management system.” 

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