Tongue Tip Elevation Exercises

Tongue tip elevation is the ability to lift the tip of one’s tongue up to the alveolar ridge (the spot just behind the upper front teeth).  As a shorthand, we often call this location “on spot,” as in, “get your tongue tip on spot!”

 

Tongue tip elevation is an oral motor skill necessary to say certain speech sounds (t, d, n, l, s, and z).  It’s also where the tongue should rest during normal oral resting posture (when you’re not eating or speaking).

 

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Does the Grabber Work on Different Skills than the Y-Chew?

Skill-wise, what would a child gain from using a Grabber vs. a Y-Chew vs. a Tri-Chew?  In other words, does the Tri-Chew works on different skills than the Y-Chew?  Does the Y-Chew work on different skills than the Grabber?  And so forth.


Great question.

The Tri-Chew and Baby Grabber are for mouthing, teething, and oral exploration for babies/toddlers up to about the age of 2.5 years old.  Oral exploration is a normal stage of mouth development – babies put things in their mouths to learn about their environment and to experience new textures and sensations.  The Tri-Chew and Baby Grabber provide a safe outlet for them to do so during this important stage.  Chewing/mouthing can also help exercise their mouth muscles in preparation for speaking and eating solid foods later on.

Continue reading Does the Grabber Work on Different Skills than the Y-Chew?

Practicing a Rhythmic Chewing Pattern

Rhythmic chewing is one component of a mature chewing pattern.  There’s a tempo to the way we chew – it’s not sporadic;  we don’t chew fast then slow then fast again.  We chew to a silent yet steady beat in order to properly break down food.
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Practicing a Rhythmic Chewing Pattern - Feeding Therapy Strategies

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In the video below, however, this young man has a very sporadic chewing pattern.  In fact, he’ll often try to skip chewing altogether and “wiggle” food toward the back of his tongue where it will then trigger a swallow.  This is of course a choking hazard, so we’re working on establishing a rhythmic chewing pattern so that he will consistently and adequately chew the food before attempting to swallow it.
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You may notice that before I do the exercises, I tell the young man what I’m about to do, “I’m going to put this in between your teeth and I want you to chew on it.  I’m going to count up to 10.”  And so forth.  By explaining the exercise beforehand, he knows what’s going to happen and what’s expected of him.  This leads to better results as well as less anxiety if the individual is hesitant/unsure.  It’s particularly important to do this when the individual doesn’t know you very well yet.
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1.  Place the loop of the Z-Grabber (or Grabber) in between the front teeth and have the individual chew 10 times.  Provide support/guide the jaw with your opposite hand if necessary for stability.

2.  Give him a chance to swallow.  Then place the yellow Textured Bite-n-Chew Tip XL (or the extension of the Grabber) in between the molars on the right side.  Count to 10 chews.

3.  Repeat on the left side.

4.  Then repeat the whole set again: 10 chews on the loop at midline, 10 chews on the extension on the right side, 10 chews on the extension on the left side.  Then a final 10 more chews on the loop again.

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So we’re practicing chewing on both sides of the mouth, as well as in the center of the mouth for symmetry.  If the chewing speeds up or slows down in pace, tap out a rhythm with your hand or try chewing to the beat of music.  Tapping out the rhythm can be very helpful in the meantime before that silent beat becomes second-nature.
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This exercise also helps build jaw strength and stabilize the jaw if you find it sliding to the right or left during speech (which can make certain speech sounds / phonemes sound “slushy” or unclear).
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As an alternative, you could also do this activity with the Z-Vibe:  for step 1 you would place a Bite-n-Chew Tip laterally in front of the mouth instead.  Or if using a Y-Chew instead of the Grabber, you would similarly place one of the extensions laterally in front of the mouth for step 1.
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Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP
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Oral Motor Exercises to Improve Jaw Stability

This young man in the video above has a jaw slide, meaning that his jaw shifts either to the left or to the right when he talks.  Since the tongue is connected to the jaw, the tongue follows the jaw, also shifting to the left or right.  Why is this a problem?  Speech sounds are properly articulated when the jaw and tongue are midline and symmetrical.  If the jaw and tongue shift to the side during speech, certain sounds may seem slushy and unclear.  So in order to clearly articulate sounds, we’ll need to stabilize his jaw at center.  To work on jaw stability:
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Jaw stability oral motor exercises

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1.  
Put the extension of the Grabber (or Y-Chew or Probe) in between the molars, as shown in the pictures above.  Ask the child to bite down and hold for a count of 10.  Repeat a total of 3 times on each side.  If necessary, provide support to the chin with your free hand.
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Bilateral jaw stability with the Grabber

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As you try this exercise, check to make sure that the space between the upper front teeth is lining up with the space between the lower front teeth.  If it’s not, switch to using the loop of the Grabber instead, and place it in the front of the mouth (see the picture above).  This position will force the child to bite on both sides at the same side so the jaw can’t shift and will instead stay centrally aligned.
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Jaw stability with the Grabber placed laterally

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3.  
You can also do this with the extension of the Grabber (or Y-Chew) placed laterally in front of the mouth (as shown above).
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4.  Finally, another way to stabilize the jaw is to use two Grabbers (or Y-Chews or Probes) simultaneously – one of either side of the mouth in between the molars.  This is essentially step 1, only with a tool on both sides of the mouth.
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As always, keep in mind that you may have to start with a shorter count, and work up to 10.  If you only get a couple counts, that’s okay!  Make a note of the progress, and try to do more in the next practice session.
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A note on counting: you’ll notice that I don’t always have the same beat to my counts in the video.  If I sense that the child is losing interest, I mix things up to refocus their attention.  You can change the beat, count faster or slower, say it with a deep voice or a high voice or anything in between, count backwards, use funny voices, and so forth.  Just have fun :)
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Debbie

Debra C. Lowsky, MS, CCC-SLP
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Tongue Pop Therapy Videos – a Great Oral Motor Exercise!

Tongue pops are my faaaavorite oral motor exercise.  They’re a fun and easy way to work on tongue placement, oral tone, tongue elevation and control, plus tongue and jaw dissociation.  These oral motor skills are necessary for proper speech and feeding development.
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Tongue Pops - my faaaavorite oral motor exercise.  Especially great for tongue movement & dissociation from the jaw

The ability to orally manage food requires a lot more skill than most people realize.  Try taking a bite out of something right now, paying attention to what your tongue is doing and how it manipulates the food.  Once the bite is fully chewed, your tongue will manipulate it into a ball (bolus).  It will then position the food bolus on top of the middle of the tongue, raise the tongue to the palate, and then squeeze it to the back of the tongue.  Once it hits the back of the tongue, it triggers a swallow.  There’s a lot going on!  Doing tongue pops is a great way to exercise the tongue, build oral tone, and practice controlled, coordinated movement.
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Tongue pops also work on the coordination required for proper speech and articulation.  For example, many speech sounds require tongue and jaw dissociation, or the ability of the tongue to work independently from the jaw. For example, try saying “la la la” right now, paying attention to what your tongue and jaw are doing.  The tongue tip should be elevating to the alveolar ridge (just behind the upper front teeth), and the jaw should be stable. Tongue pop exercises will work on both elevating the tongue tip, and teaching it to work separately from the jaw.  They also work the back margins of the tongue, forcing them to make contact with the upper back teeth.  This contact is how we produce R, SH, CH, DZ, S, Z, and other speech sounds.
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Continue reading Tongue Pop Therapy Videos – a Great Oral Motor Exercise!

Improving Jaw Strength & Stability

Jaw Strength & Stability Exercises

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The Y-Chew is an excellent tool to develop oral tone, practice biting and chewing skills, work on oral motor exercises, and improve jaw strength and stability.  The long extensions reach all the way to the back molar area to really exercise the jaw, and two of the extensions have a textured surface for added tactile input.  Check out the therapy videos below for some jaw exercises using the Y-Chew:
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Bite and hold the Y-Chew for 10 second increments.  Repeat several times on both sides.  This oral motor exercise strengthens the jaw so that it doesn’t move from side to side or open too far.   It also works on jaw stability and a sustained bite by keeping the jaw from sliding from side to side.
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Continue reading Improving Jaw Strength & Stability

Jaw Grading & Stability

Jaw grading is the ability to visually judge how far you need to open your mouth to take a bite out of certain foods and to say certain speech sounds.  For example, say “ooooo” versus “aaahh” – can you feel the height difference in your jaw?  It needs to open just a little bit for “eeee,” but wider for “oooh.”  Or, imagine taking a bite out of a thin cracker versus a burger – there’s a big difference in jaw heights.

 

Jaw Grading & Stability

 

One of my favorite ways to work on jaw grading is with the Z-Vibe Animal Tips.  Individually, each tip is a great sensory oral motor tool – they have lots of different ‘pockets’ for the tongue to explore, textured surfaces to experience, and friendly faces that kids really gravitate to.

 

Jaw Grading & StabilityBite Blocks for Jaw Grading

 

The Animal Tips also have bite blocks on their reverse sides to practice jaw grading (the parts circled in the image above).  The Dog Tip has the thickest block, the Mouse Tip has a thinner block, and the Cat Tip has the thinnest.  Because they are three distinct thicknesses, you can use them in sequence to gradually increase the difficulty level:

 

1.   Start with the Dog Tip.  It has the thickest bite block, so it will be the easiest to visually judge and bite down on.  Instruct the child to bite down on the bite block and hold for a count of 3-5 seconds.  Release and repeat.
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2.   Once the child can visually judge how to correctly bite on the Dog Tip, progress to the Mouse Tip and repeat the process.  The Mouse Tip’s bite block is not as thick, and so it will be a little harder to judge.
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3.   Once the child can visually judge how to correctly bite the Mouse Tip, progress to the Cat Tip.  The Cat has the thinnest bite block, and so it will be the most difficult.

 

Jaw Grading Bite Block Hierarchy

 

Before you start, be sure to explain to the child what you’re doing and why.  This helps increase compliance and decrease anxiety.  Also, make sure that the child is not chewing on the bite block.  You want them to hold the bite (this is called a sustained bite).  Last but not least, pay attention to the jaw as well.  You don’t want the jaw to open too wide or not enough.  The child needs to practice gauging what the “just right” height is.  This may take some time and practice before they get it.

 

For a visual of the above, see the video below (the first part of the video is about mouthing.  Skip to 1:25 for jaw grading):

 

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You can also work on jaw grading by allowing the individual to mouth and explore the Animal Tips.  Their cheeks, ears, faces, etc. all differ in height/thickness to provide a range of high and low jaw positions.  For example, you can present the Cat’s ears to the individual with the face facing upwards.  Or, you can hold the tip sideways, which will provide a different height and require the jaw to open wider.  I also like using the Y-Chew for the same reason – the three “arms” of this chew tool have different thicknesses to practice jaw grading.

 

 

Before you can work on jaw grading, keep in mind that the child may need to see a physical and/or occupational therapist for trunk control and proper positioning.  The child will need to have stability in the trunk, for example, before he or she can have control over the mouth.

 

For more related exercises on jaw strength & stability, click here and here.
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Cheers,
Debbie
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