A study - recently published in Movement Disorders – explains how researchers in Japan have developed a removable dental appliance that can reduce tics in both children and adults with Tourette syndrome - a neurological disorder characterized by vocal and motor tics, which can contribute to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. This ability could positively impact the everyday lives of individuals with Tourette syndrome.
While there is no cure for Tourette syndrome, there are several available options to treat severe tics. These include behavioral, pharmacological, and more intrusive surgical interventions, but the efficacy of these treatments can vary, and patients still frequently suffer from physical, mental, and social disabilities. As an alternative treatment option, researchers at Osaka University have developed a custom-made oral splint, typically used for unconscious teeth clenching and grinding, and for temporomandibular disorders such as misalignment of the teeth or jaw. The oral splint is applied to the molars to increase the occlusal vertical dimension, which essentially means that the alignment of the nose, lips, and chin is altered.
While it isn't yet clear how the oral splint exerts these effects, the action of biting down could serve as a sensory trick - voluntary maneuvers that usually involve touching parts of the face and head, and can alleviate involuntary movements. Sensory tricks have been well documented to temporarily improve dystonia, which is a movement disorder that is, like Tourette syndrome, characterized by uncontrollable tics. While larger-scale studies are needed, the oral splint has clear therapeutic potential. As well as enhancing quality of life, ameliorating tics could improve psychosocial functioning in patients with Tourette syndrome.
"Biting down on the device immediately improved both motor and vocal tics in 10 of the 14 children and six of the eight adults that participated in the study," says Jumpei Murakami, joint first author of the study. "What's more, 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.”
“Considering previous findings on sensory tricks in patients with cervical dystonia, it seems possible that the oral splint modulates proprioceptive or 'touch' signals," added Yoshihisa Tachibana, co-first author of the study. "These 'touch' signals might be modified by the muscles involved in jaw-closing before being relayed to the brain."
Redefining Oral Surgery
Five million people in the United States undergo orthodontic procedures every year, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. In some cases, teeth are misaligned to such an extent that surgery is required to cut collagen fibers under the gums before braces are put on the teeth. And some patients often choose not to undergo the procedure because it's invasive and can be painful. A pre-clinical study in ACS Nano showed that they could potentially reduce pain and recovery time with the aid of specialized nanotechnology.
Scientists recently have turned to nanotechnologies to target therapeutics to specific locations, and previous studies have shown some success in using liposomes, which are empty nanoscale vesicles, for drug delivery. Collagenase enzymes could potentially remodel the fibers connecting teeth to bone in the mouth without using a scalpel, but so far, delivering enzymes with liposomes has been challenging.
Researchers wanted to develop liposomes that could deliver collagenase enzymes to perform targeted nanosurgery in the mouth. They developed liposomal nanoparticles that contained collagenase and performed tests with them in rats. When the liposomes were placed under the gums, the collagenase diffused out of the particles and was activated by calcium naturally found in the mouth. The collagenase weakened the collagen fibers, making it easier to shift the teeth afterward with braces. Compared to conventional surgery, the collagenase treatment helped move the teeth three times faster. All of the rats lost some weight after the surgery, just as humans typically do. But unlike the other rats, the ones treated with collagenase quickly rebounded to their normal healthy weight, which the researchers say suggests they were not in pain.
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With over 30 years of writing and editing experience for newspapers, magazines and corporate communications, Kevin Kerfoot writes about natural health, nutrition, skincare and oral hygiene for Trusted Health Products’ natural health blog and newsletters.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.