Tagged "Teeth Grinding"


Ask A Therapist: Down Syndrome & Teeth Grinding

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Hello, 

 

I have a 23 months old baby boy with Down Syndrome, who is grinding his teeth so bad lately. It is so annoying sometimes. He has 9 teeth and feeding is doing much better at this time. We have the Parent Kit and we are using the Straw #1. My husband is thinking to take him to a pediatric dentist, but I believe I can find an answer from the TalkTools experts. Please help us, we are desperately.

 

 

Thank you,

 

Lucy

 

Hi Lucy,

What you are mentioning is a common concern I hear from parents of children with Down Syndrome.  You are right to follow your instincts. Often we see children grind their teeth as a sign of jaw weakness and a need for sensory input. When I see patients who are often grinding their teeth we work on chewing on the chewy tubes frequently throughout the day. This will help with jaw strengthening and providing sensory input.  If you would like more information about how to do this and why, there are two video that you might find helpful: "A Three Part Treatment Plan for Oral Placement Therapy" and "Developing Oral Sensory Motor Skills to Support Feeding in the Down Syndrome Population.". Please let me know if you have anymore questions. 

We are always happy to help.

Thanks,

Liz

 

Elizabeth Smithson, MSP, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has over 10 years of professional experience working with infants, children, adolescents and adults. She earned her Master of Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. Liz is also a Level 5 TalkTools® Trained Therapist. She has received specialized training in Oral Placement Therapy, Speech, Feeding, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and PROMPT©. Liz works with clients with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. She works through her own private practice Elizabeth Smithson Therapy, LLC in the home setting and in the TalkTools® office in Charleston, SC.

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Ask A Therapist: 7 year old with Down Syndrome who can't drink

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

My son who has Down Syndrome will be seven next month and still can't drink.

 

Ben had a high palate and was breastfed. He really latched with his tongue. He only drinks from a hard spout sippy cup. He grinds his teeth really bad too. But he still uses his tongue, even as he drinks from the sippy cup. You can see his tongue out on the bottom of the sippy cup, it's like his sucking reflex is so strong his brain won't let him not use his tongue to suck! He doesn't stick his tongue out and it's not a thick tongue either. We have tried the honey bear and tubing as well, he just wants to use his tongue! Any suggestions on how to help my little guy?

 

Thank you!

 

Robin

Hi Robin,

It sounds like your son is still demonstrating what we call a "suckle pattern" when drinking. If he is not able to drink from the honey bear straw cup at all, I would recommend that you consult a TalkTools Trained Therapist to have an evaluation and get more information on how to work on straw drinking with your child. There is a strategy of using a syringe to place small amounts of liquid in his cheeks by his back molars but I feel this technique would be best implemented by someone with experience, who can guide you through the process. If that is not an option, I would watch Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson's video-on-demand "A Three-Part Treatment Plan for Oral Placement Therapy" and try to teach yourself before implementing the techniques with your son. Please let me know if we can help you with anything else.

Thanks,

Liz

 

Elizabeth Smithson, MSP, CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist who has over 10 years of professional experience working with infants, children, adolescents and adults. She earned her Master of Speech Pathology at the University of South Carolina. Liz is also a Level 5 TalkTools® Trained Therapist. She has received specialized training in Oral Placement Therapy, Speech, Feeding, Apraxia, Sensory Processing Disorders, and PROMPT©. Liz works with clients with a wide range of disabilities including Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  She works through her own private practice Elizabeth Smithson Therapy, LLC in the home setting and in the TalkTools® office in Charleston, SC.

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Ask a Therapist: Teeth Grinding

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Hi,

 

My 7 year old son with Down Syndrome used to grind his teeth and had grown out of it (we thought). He recently had surgery and the grinding has returned with ferocity. It’s only during the day and is worse than before. His teeth have been ground down to next to nothing. I’m at a loss as to what to do and try, but I would really like to nip this in the bud before his permanent teeth come in – he as 2 bottom ones so far.

 

Do you have any suggestions of strategies I could try?

Hi,

It is not uncommon for children with jaw weakness or jaw instability to teeth grind, stop and then renew the habit when they are under stress.  Surgery can certainly be considered a stressful situation.  As I had mentioned above and reiterate in my book, Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw: Sensory, Feeding and Speech, the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the site of organization within the human body.  What your son is telling you, without using the words, is that he wants stimulation in that joint to calm himself down (to satisfy a need).  Once teeth grinding begins and the dentition becomes uneven the habit may continue after the stress has left.  The grinding continues to even out the biting surface of the teeth for chewing or may continue just because the child learns the grinding "feels good."  In either case, we know the grinding is detrimental to your son's teeth and we need to find a way to help him to stop doing it.

tmj
 

You asked for specific suggestions and here is what I would like you to do.  Since your son has the diagnosis of Down syndrome it is likely that he also has jaw weakness.  The activities taught in the book Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw: Sensory, Feeding and Speech are used as an alternative to the teeth grinding while addressing the root cause.  The activities will improve jaw symmetry, stability and grading.  Each of these jaw goals will also improve his feeding skills and his speech clarity.  If possible I would ask you to find a Speech-Language Pathologist in your area who has been trained in the TalkTools approach to muscle-based feeding and speech deficits.  She or he would be able to direct you through the two primary activities: "Jaw Grading Bite Blocks" and the "Bite Tube Hierarchy."  Used together these should reduce and hopefully eliminate the teeth grinding.  Additional activities in the book include: teaching him to chew gum without swallowing the gum, chewing on his back molars and a variety of other activities to address the identified jaw muscle needs.  

As in all cases it is best to read the entire book first to identify your son's specific needs and then to choose the activities that he enjoys.  An ideal time to practice each activity would be when he is teeth grinding.  In this way you will give him an alternative that will help him while acknowledging the fact that he needs stimulation to the TMJ. 

I hope this helps.

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP

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Ask a Therapist: Teeth Grinding

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

My child has no problems with eating or drinking, but grinds his teeth until I want to grind mine! His dentist says it's common in kids with Down syndrome. I saw your teeth grinding items and wondered if they might help? He is 5 years old, does not speak much – he imitates sounds, growls and whale noises from his favorite movies, but has no interest in forming words. He is in speech therapy through school.

Teeth grinding is generally used to help children with special needs to organize their bodies or to calm down; they are seeking stimulation to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is where the upper jaw and lower jaw meet right below the ears. Babies suckle their thumbs or suckle on a pacifier to get the same needed stimulation. As your dentist noted, teeth grinding is common in children with the diagnosis of Down syndrome, but there are reasons and a treatment protocol. Because your son is not talking, I suspect he has weakness in the masseter muscles (muscles of the jaw) as related to his diagnosis, he too may need that additional stimulation to the TMJ.

This is such a huge issue that I have written a book on the subject called, Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw.

There is a whole chapter on why kids grind their teeth or have other habits that provide direct stimulation to the TMJ. I encourage you to read the book before you invest in any therapy tools, as it will help you identify what tools and activities would most benefit your son.

In addition, if there is a gap between what your son understands and what he can say, then his jaw weakness may be a primary factor in keeping him from using oral language. You may want to look into having him evaluated by an SLP in your area who is familiar with Oral Placement Therapy. Many SLPs have taken our introduction classes and would be able to work with your son if there are muscle-based deficits related to his difficulty in learning to talk. 

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson

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