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Need help with cheek biting tic

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  • Need help with cheek biting tic

    Background: My 11yo son has TS Plus. His tics are generally considered mild. We live in a small town where the therapy options are limited. He has a therapist but realistically she isn't going to be able to help with this question.

    My son sometimes chews on the inside of his left cheek. In itself this is self-limiting. The problem is that once there's a chewed-on spot, it sticks out a little bit, and the chances of chomping down quite hard on it by accident while eating are much, much higher. Can anyone give us some practical advice about this?

    I am hoping to find something similar to a technique my son's eye doctor taught him to help with his squinting tic, which was pretty out of control. The exercise goes like this: close your eyes (this can be either a hard closing or a relaxed closing -- it doesn't matter); do a windshield-wiper movement with your eyes, moving them from one side to the other, while your eyes are closed. She said this would help his system re-set and help relax the eye spasms.

    This is something I am able to help him do, with a discreet, non-verbal reminder. It has been remarkably helpful! He still blinks, squints and winks, but much, much less.

    The best I've been able to think of for the cheek problem is to give him objects for oral stimulation, such as a chewable pencil topper or a frozen object that can be played with in the mouth. I'm not sure whether chewing gum would be a good idea or a bad idea in this situation.

  • #2
    Re: need help with cheek biting tic

    It sounds like your son may be old enough, and has a matured sense of self awareness to be able to respond to simple behavioural modification, based on his experience with managing his eye squint tic.

    You may want to explore a similarly constructed tic blocker for his cheek biting behaviour, which makes me wonder (as a non professional lay person) how much if this action might be a compulsion for self injury and how much is an actual involuntary tic!

    If possible you may want to investigate finding your son a behavioural therapist who has experience with kids with Tourette.
    TouretteLinks Forum


    • #3
      Re: need help with cheek biting tic

      I don't see much in the way of self-injury habits in him. He was picking at one or two toenails for a while but it wasn't too bad, and he has gotten pretty well over that.

      I'd like to help him make progress with this particular symptom, because occasionally he chomps down accidentally on the tender spot while eating, and it hurts like heck.

      I like your "simple behavioral modification" idea. Can you suggest anything specific, analogous to what the eye doctor gave him for his squinting?


      • #4
        Re: need help with cheek biting tic

        Re cheek biting, toenail picking, I think these are jsut personal grooming tics that have gone awry. I never heard of anyone else doing these things, but I (a grandmother) started them as a young child and at 69 still do them, though not nearly as much. I find chewing my cheek or inside of moouth around the lip to be oddly satisfying. I don't think it relieve stress or that I do it out of boredom and there is no way that it is self harm actifity. I just like doiing it, but do try not to do it in public. Frankly, I never thought of these as tics, since my tics are mostly from the nose up, with eye tics and sensory tics in nose and forehead being terribly uncomfortable. Perhaps just asking your son to be aware and to keep the cheek biting to within the home would be sufficient for him to adapt. I doubt he picks his toenails in public.I hope the fact that this is perhaps more common than I had realized is also reassuring to you. I sincerely doubt that therapy will make much difference if he is deriving some odd comfort or pleasure from these activities. After all, they can be done in private if he doesn't want to stop.You sound like a very supportive and accepting parent. And keep in mind that little tics may be temporary. Good luck.


        • #5
          Re: need help with cheek biting tic

          I'm wondering if you talked to a dentist or orthodontist if they might have a simple solution.
          I remember when I first had braces, they tore apart the side of my mouth and the solution at that time was to apply wax over the wires of the braces.
          That was a long time ago, there must be a better solution now.

          Maybe something simple, like a mouth guard, would change where his teeth meet and allow the tender spot to heal.
          Such a device might not be possible with his tics, but a suggestion to discuss ...
          Tina, Forum Moderator, TSFC Staff Liaison

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          • #6
            Re: need help with cheek biting tic

            Update: this has been less of a problem since we started a hefty vitamin C supplement. My son follows a low-carb diet because of insulin resistance. When he started the low-carb diet, he went from three servings of fruit per day down to one or two. So I got the idea that maybe he wasn't getting enough vitamin C in his diet. I know that my gums get kind of itchy when I'm not getting enough vitamin C.