Tagged "temporomandibular joint"


Ask a Therapist: TMJ Sensory Feedback for Calming

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Hey Sara,

 

Recently you had a parent open question meeting in Corpus Christi, TX. I was there with my 8 month old baby. You were talking to a woman who's 5ish son with Down syndrome was repeatedly hitting his chin and you mentioned he was satisfying a feeling that was in his jaw by that action. I have noticed my baby has started doing that with her left hand. What do you recommend to help correct/redirect this behavior now?

 

-L

Hi L,

The sight of stability and calming for an infant is in the temporomandibular joint. This joint is where the upper and lower jaw meet right below the ear. There are more nerve endings going through that joint than any other location in the human body. When a baby sucks his/her thumb, sucks from a bottle, sucks on a pacifier, etc. the nerves in that joint are stimulated and the baby calms or even falls a sleep. If your child is doing other behaviors to stimulate the jaw like hitting the chin or for older children it may be teeth grinding, then it is probably time to introduce the Bite-Tube Hierarchy. You can learn more about this and other activities to increase jaw skills for both feeding and speech clarity in my book, "Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw: Putting it all together, Sensory Feeding and Speech."

If you do decide to purchase that book please read the chapter on Sensory first as it will explain to you in more detail the reason why babies and children with muscle-based deficits develop "habits" to compensate for the jaw weaknesses. I would also encourage you to share this information with your SLP as she may have additional suggestions.

I hope this has answered your question.

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP

Read more →

Ask a Therapist: Bite Tube Hierarchy for TMJ stimulation

Posted by Deborah Grauzam on

Dear TalkTools,

 

My son, David, is 4 years old and has Down Syndrome. He has in the last year started chewing on his tongue. I have tried giving him the P & Q to chew on and also the Gator Jiggler. The Gator works for a time and the P's and Q's do not seem to help at all. I looked on your website for potential ideas to no avail and was wondering if you have additional thoughts/ideas. We are a very oral family -- I chew on my pens (usually when I'm thinking), my two oldest daughters were thumb suckers until older, my 2nd daughter bites her nails, my 3rd daughter chews on her shoelaces...thanks for any ideas that you may have!!

 

Robyn

 

P.S. Sara has seen David informally the last two years at NDSC.

Hi Robyn,

I am so pleased you decided to email TalkTools with this question. I must say this tongue chewing is often seen in kids with the diagnosis of Down syndrome as well as with other children with low tone and associated muscle weakness. In my second book, Assessment and Treatment of the Jaw - Putting it all together: Sensory, Feeding and Speech, I devote an entire chapter as to why children with jaw weakness find these habits: tongue sucking is only one of them. Other kids choose teeth grinding, finger sucking, sucking on clothing, biting themselves or other, prolonged use of pacifiers or sippy cups and nail biting. What all of these "habits" have in common is the need for stimulation to the temporomandibular joint for calming. This is the joint where the bones of the upper jaw and the bones of the lower jaw meet right below the ears. This joint has more nerve endings than any other place in the human body. It is where we go to relax. In your email you mentioned you bite on a pen and your daughters bite on shoe laces or nails. The up-and-down movement of the jaw relaxes us and helps us to organize our bodies.

Because your son needs stimulation directly to the joint the two techniques you listed: P&Q and Jiggler vibrator are not giving him the correct input. The muscles that need to be activated are the masseter muscles and the tools you are using are not reaching those muscles.

We, at TalkTools, have developed many techniques to give this necessary TMJ stimulation. One which seems very appropriate for your son would be the Bite Tube Hierarchy, in which four tubes are used to not only satisfy the need for TMJ stimulation but also are used to improve speech clarity and chewing skill levels. The instructions for how to implement the technique is included with the therapy tools. There are many more options to substitute for the tongue sucking and these can be found in the book I mentioned above.

I hope this answers your question,

Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson, MS, CCC-SLP

Read more →

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

Read more →
script type="text/javascript" src="//downloads.mailchimp.com/js/signup-forms/popup/unique-methods/embed.js" data-dojo-config="usePlainJson: true, isDebug: false">