An oral splint that can reduce Tourette syndrome tics

September 09, 2019

Osaka, Japan - Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by vocal and motor tics, which can contribute to anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Researchers in Japan have developed a removable dental appliance that can reduce these tics in both children and adults with Tourette syndrome. The ability to ameliorate tics 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 (e.g. psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy), pharmacological (e.g. medications that block dopamine in the brain), and more intrusive surgical interventions (e.g. deep brain stimulation, whereby motor areas of the brain receive electrical stimulation). However, 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. These are 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. The study was recently published in Movement Disorders.

"Biting down on the device immediately improved both motor and vocal tics in 10 of the 14 children and 6 of the 8 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."

While it isn't yet clear how the oral splint exerts these effects, the action of biting down could serve as a sensory trick. Sensory tricks are 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.

"Considering previous findings on sensory tricks in patients with cervical dystonia, it seems possible that the oral splint modulates proprioceptive, or 'touch' signals," explains 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."

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.
-end-
The article, "Oral splint ameliorates tic symptoms in patients with Tourette syndrome," was published in Movement Disorders at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.27819.

Osaka University

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.