A few weeks back we talked about TMJ/TMD and in that blog, we touched on oral appliances as a tool to help prevent and/or mitigate the impact of TMJ/TMD for those who suffer from the disorder. It turns out, according to new research recently released, that an oral appliance might serve another purpose as well – helping to alleviate tics for those living with Tourette Syndrome.
The study, released in Japan and completed by researchers at Osaka University, found that by using “a simple, removable oral splint (in) both adults and children with Tourette Syndrome (subjects) experienced a reduction in their tics.” (1) This is ground breaking news and although the study was small, the results were very promising. For those living with Tourette’s, a strategy that helps to reduce the volume, duration and intensity of their tics, could have a significant impact on their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Tourette’s, for those not familiar with it, is a neurological disorder most commonly associated with vocal and/or motor tics – movements that are out of the control of the person living with the disorder. Tics can be physically exhausting and mentally draining and side effects like anxiety, depression and low self-esteem are common. Current treatments include behavioural therapy, pharmacological interventions and sometimes more intrusive surgical therapies. Needless to say, an oral appliance that might work in place of, or in conjunction with, existing therapies, would be a “game-changer.”
The study found that biting down on a custom made oral splint “immediately improved both motor and vocal tics in 10 of the 14 children and 6 of the 8 adults that participated in the study.” According to researchers, “these effects were long lasting. Long-term improvements in motor tics after more than 100 days were especially evident in patients who were younger when their tics first started.” (2)
Here’s how it works. It appears that biting down on the oral splint acts like a “sensory trick.” This is a common tool that typically involves someone with Tourette’s touching parts of their head or face to help alleviate involuntary tics. The oral splint seems to simulate the same type of sensory trick. Because the appliance is unobtrusive and custom made for the patient we think this is a potentially less invasive strategy that could also help to reduce reliance on pharmacological interventions.
If you would like to know more, or know someone with Tourette’s who could benefit from reading this study, please check out the attached link. In the meantime, thanks for reading and as always, we leave you with this friendly reminder: “don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”