I regularly read the column by Dr. Nancy W. Burkhart in RDH and of particular interest was the article in August 2013, "Tongue Chewing." I have often had patients with morsicatio buccarum, labiorum, and linguarum (which she has addressed in previous issues), and have been intrigued with this condition.
A few years ago, I began my journey with orofacial myology. One area that orofacial myofunctional therapists address is oral habits. This can range from digit sucking to tongue sucking. I have learned that actually achieving a tongue rest posture in the palate will create a different type of sensory perception for the patient. There are nerves in the area of the sphenoid bones and, with proper stimulation, can produce a sort of endorphine release. This is a simplified explanation.
More than likely, when chewing on any of these areas, the tongue will not be resting in the palate. Today, I had a dental hygiene patient who presented with bilateral morsicatio buccarum. I suggested she work on what is called a "peanut butter rub." This exercise has the patient slowly rub the tongue from the incisive papilla back toward the soft palate and then forward as if to remove peanut butter from the roof of the mouth. This will actually create a type of "tickle" sensation.
This may not totally eliminate the habit in a patient but it is simple to describe in a hygiene appointment and worth the effort to see if it will help the patient.
Many therapists have successfully worked with tongue suckers through an orofacial myofunctional therapy program.
Thank you for the interesting article.
Marge Foran, RDH, BA, Orofacial Myologist
Past RDH Issues