Down Syndrome Tongue ProtrusionDue to the fact that Down syndrome individuals have low muscle tone, tongue problems are inevitable. The tongue is constructed by two kinds of muscles, each with its own role. The intrinsic muscles are important in creating movements such as thickening, shortening, flattening, narrowing, and widening of the tongue. The intrinsic muscles move the tip and the sides of the tongue. On the other hand, the extrinsic muscles decide where the tongue will be placed between the two jaws. The extrinsic muscles are responsible for the movements necessary to talk, eat, and drink. When it comes to the individuals with Down syndrome, their tongues are often deformed is a way that they are disproportionate to the mouth. The tongues are larger than average, and significantly thicker. As already mention, due to the low muscle tone the muscles of the tongue are unable to function properly and in turn leave the individual with speech problems. The issues with the intrinsic muscles revolve around the inability to keep the tongue in a steady place so the affected individuals are required to put in great effort to eat and drink. In addition, the extra genetic material produces a variety of developmental problems and affects every organ in the body.
Exercises For Increasing Muscle Tone In The TongueAside from leading to physical health complications, cognitive advancement is stalled as well. Down syndrome persons do reach important developmental milestones but at different pace. They often grow slowly and suffer from different forms of learning disabilities. Nevertheless, they are capable to learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge throughout their lives if provided with the right type of educational setting. For this reason many problems that Down syndrome persons face can be corrected through speech, occupational, and physical therapy. Low muscles tone in the tongue or anywhere else in the body is no different. The motor skills of the tongue can be practiced and improvement observed in functions such as speaking or eating. Babies who do not suffer from developmental disorders start using their oral motor skills at year and a half to two years of age. During this time in the developmental stages children learn to stick the tongue out and pull it back in. Before reaching two and a half children are able to move the tongue from one side of the mouth to the other. Finally, between the ages of 3 and 4 the child will be able to lift the tip of the tongue. All these stages of development last longer in Down syndrome individuals and the end results are seldom the same. Notwithstanding, there are exercises and activities a child can engage in to increase the muscle tone and improve the mobility of the tongue. Parents play a major role in teaching their children to perform tasks that lead to desired results. For instance, pushing the tongue against objects such as cheerio’s on a plate will increase the strength of the muscles. Sticking the tongue out for a short interval of time of a few seconds every day and pulling it back in like a snake is another form of effective tongue exercise. When the child gains a little bit of strength and masters new skills balancing a cheerio on the tip of the tongue is usually the next stage of activities. Also, licking the food off a plate or a spoon is a great exercise for muscle tone. If parents put small pieces of food around the mouth for the child to lick the tongue will gain strength while its muscles are developing. Lastly, licking ice cream and lolly pops can help as well. When it comes to practicing moving the tongue from one side to the other parents are encouraged to place foods such as peanut butter or melted chocolate on the sides of the mouth so the child licks them by moving the tongue sideways. Repeating the same steps but putting the food on the inside of the cheek produces the same effects. When it comes to strengthening the skill and muscles necessary for pulling the tongue back in blowing into objects improves the skill. The objects can include balloons, whistles, and so on. Drinking milk shakes and really thick smoothes using thin straws also benefits the tongue.
Teeth in Down SyndromeDown syndrome individuals are known for suffering from tooth decay. Some experts postulate that increased amounts of saliva in these patients make it easier for bacteria to defect the teeth. It’s important to note that tooth hygiene of the child begins while the mother is still pregnant and it depends on the foods that she eats. Taking vitamins and calcium supplements is usually recommended but it has to be done under the doctor’s supervision. Once the baby is born and learns to spit, strict oral hygiene rich in fluoride will help the teeth stay as healthy as possible. Baby tooth brushes or soft cloths are used in cleaning the teeth, which should be commenced as soon they start to grow.