Oral Care & Chewing

Eating Time, Oral Care, Bibs & Accessories

Everyone benefits from good oral care but for some people it can be challenging! 
Some people find tooth brushing uncomfortable and upsetting – especially if they have additional needs, autism or a sensory processing disorder and maybe don’t understand why they need to have their teeth brushed in the first place. It may be hard for them to tolerate having a toothbrush in their mouth which can make oral care and teeth brushing a stressful for families and carers.

Many people with special needs will also feel the need to bite or chew, especially those on the Autistic spectrum. There may be a range of reasons for this such as frustration, stress, anxiety, the desire to communicate or the need for sensory stimulation. It can also be a reaction to feeling overwhelmed by their environment. Chewing or biting can also be a comforting activity, providing a sensory input to the proprioceptive system.

Fledglings has a range of oral care products, adapted to help families and carers as well as a wide range of safe chewing and biting aids. These are aimed at improving oral hygiene and providing a safe alternatives for people who like to bite and chew.

View our extensive range or contact us for further information or support. If we do not stock the product you are looking for, we are happy to point you in the right direction.

Biting & Chewing

A range of safe chewing aids designed to help those who seek sensory input through biting and chewing.

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Oral Care & Hygiene

Adapted oral care products designed to improve oral hygiene and take some of the stress out of tooth care for families and carers.  

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COMMON ISSUES & SOLUTIONS

We know that caring for a disabled child can be very challenging. We can help.

Our Solutions Information leaflets cover the fundamental issues involved with Oral Care and Hygiene while presenting some of the most widely available product solutions to meet those needs.

Brushing your teeth and oral care can be upsetting and uncomfortable - especially if you have a sensory processing disorder or do not understand why you need to brush your teeth in the first place. This can make oral care and teeth brushing a challenge for families and carers. Generally, it is a good idea to brush the teeth gently, avoiding vigorous brushing which may push the toothbrush too far back into the mouth and cause gagging. Soft bristle brushes are also preferable in many cases. Your dentist, health professional or occupational therapist should be able to advise you on the best solutions for you.
There also are a number of oral care products available which can help with oral care and hygiene:

Unflavoured Toothpaste – many children and adults can find the strong taste of many toothpastes unpleasant. The foaming action of many toothpaste brands can also cause gagging and discomfort, leading to spitting. An unflavoured toothpaste, which does not foam can help solve some of these issues and make tooth brushing a better experience for both child and carer.

There also are a number of oral care products available which can help with oral care and hygiene:

Unflavoured Toothpaste – many children and adults can find the strong taste of many toothpastes unpleasant. The foaming action of many toothpaste brands can also cause gagging and discomfort, leading to spitting. An unflavoured toothpaste, which does not foam can help solve some of these issues and make tooth brushing a better experience for both child and carer.

Oranurse Unflavoured Toothpaste

Finger toothbrushes and gum massagers – rubber finger brushes are used to massage the gums and brush the teeth, gently removing plaque while allowing the child to get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed. These are ideal for babies and young infants as well as those who need help in brushing their teeth.

Bug Brush – this bug shaped tooth brushing aid is covered in bristles on both sides. When an infant chews and bites on the Bugbrush, the bristles massage the teeth and gums, removing any unwanted plaque or food. It is a good way of introducing an infant to brushing their teeth in a fun way.

Specialist Toothbrushes, angled or shaped toothbrush heads – by using a toothbrush with a different shaped head, it can be easier to brush the teeth with fewer strokes and clean both sides of the teeth at one time. This can be a better solution for those who find teeth cleaning stressful.

Dr Barman’s Superbrush – available in three sizes, these brushes have two heads, which set at an angle, so that both sides of the teeth can be brushed at the same time. With fewer strokes, both sides of teeth can be cleaned effectively. 

Collis Curved Toothbrush – this brush has curved bristles which arch over the head of the toothbrush. The bristles part in the middle when the brush is used, allowing both sides of the teeth to be cleaned. At the same time short bristles at the base of the head, brush the top of the tooth. Thus, both sides and the top of the teeth are cleaned simultaneously meaning fewer strokes are needed to clean the teeth.

Electric toothbrushes – for some the vibrating effect of an electric toothbrush can be soothing, although they will not suit everyone due to the noise.

Bigger grips for toothbrushes – if someone has a weaker grip they may find it hard to grasp the toothbrush. A tubular foam grip pushed on to the brush handle would help. Increasing the width of the handle makes it easier and more comfortable for the person to hold, allowing them to brush their own teeth.

PLEASE NOTE: discomfort and an unwillingness to have their teeth brushed may be sign of a dental problem or other medical issue. If you suspect this may be the case, then please seek professional advice.

Fledglings has a good range of Oral Care products available at reasonable prices. Please see our Brochure or look on our website at www.fledglings.org.uk. Our helpline staff will be happy to help if you have any queries.

Further advice and information on oral care:

http://www.autism-anglia.org.uk
http://www.sensoryintegration.org.uk/
http://www.scope.org.uk/support/tips/hygiene/teeth
 

Many people with special needs will bite or chew, especially those on the Autistic spectrum. There may be a range of reasons for this such as frustration, stress, anxiety, the desire to communicate or the need for sensory stimulation. It can also be a reaction to feeling overwhelmed by their environment. Chewing or biting can also be a comforting activity, providing a sensory input to the proprioceptive system.

Chewing and biting behaviour can manifest in the sucking of clothing, particularly at the cuffs and necks of garments as well as the chewing of fingers and other inedible objects. This form of self- stimulating behaviour is called ‘stimming’. Chewing aids are one way of safely redirecting this behaviour by changing the object on which the person chews to a safer alternative. They can also help strengthen muscles in the mouth and encourage the chewing skills needed for eating and speech. If you need advice, an occupational or speech and language therapist should be able to give you more information.

Chewing aids can help:

  • As an oral fidget aid for sensory seekers – those who need stimulation and proprioceptive input. 
  • They can be a safe alternative to chewing on hands, knuckles, cuffs and sleeves, shirts, pencils, etc. 
  • As an alternative to tooth grinding or thumb sucking. 
  • To practice biting/chewing safely by using a safe chewing aid, thus avoiding the risk of choking on inappropriate objects. 
  • To build oral strength and control. 
  • Can help with the urge to chew for individuals who are tube fed. 
  • Chewing aids are usually made of non-toxic medical grade material for added safety. 

Please note: Severe biting and chewing can lead to physical damage to the tissues on the arms, hands and fingers. Every individual’s experiences and behaviour will be different so in instances of severe biting, it may be best to seek professional advice. Biting and chewing can also be related to physical discomfort, pain in the mouth or another medical issue. If you suspect this may be the case, please seek specialist medical or dental advice.

Types of Chewing Aids

Chew Bangles:

Oral aids worn on the wrist: Usually made of high grade and resilient material such as medical grade silicone or Therma Elastic Polymer these chewing aids, worn on the wrist, are ideal for those who have a tendency to chew on their cuffs, wrists or fingers. There is range of styles on the market – some have textured surfaces for added sensory stimulation, others may be stretchy or come in a variety of colours and shapes. They can be worn singly or in groups. Be aware that the firmness of the material used varies and some may be more suitable for a strong bite than others. It is best to check with the manufacturer or supplier as well as your OT if you have any queries as to what would be best for you. It is also a good idea to check the product and wash it regularly. Even the strongest material will eventually show signs of wear, especially if the user has a strong bite. If the bangle or chewing aid becomes damaged it should always be replaced.

Chewear Bangles

Tread Bangles

Chewelry

Chew Pendants, Necklaces:

Not everybody gets on with wearing a bangle on the wrist, some people may find wearing a chewing aid around the neck more comfortable to use. The pendant, suspended from a cord or lanyard should have a quick release clasp. Chew Pendants, should always be used with adult supervision and are not suitable for children under 36 months, as the cord can constitute a choking hazard. There are different styles and colours to choose from, some have variable levels of hardness while others have a textured surface to give an extra sensory input. Please check the pendant regularly and replace if it shows signs of wear.

Disc Pendants 

Chewing aids:

There are many other different types of chewing aid such as the Chewy Tubes, Super Chews, P’s and Q’s, and Chew Buddies. They are tactile and designed to be comfortable to hold in the hand and mouth - some have grip like ‘handles’ for example. They come in a range of different levels of hardness while others have textured or ridged surfaces for added oral stimulation. If you are unsure, an OT should be able to advise you on the most suitable product. It may be that if your child has a particularly strong bite they will need a tougher chewing aid made from a more resistant material. Again, you would need to check the chewing aid regularly and replace it if it is damaged.

Chewy Chubes

Super Chew

Neckerchiefs with chewing aid attached:

Some bibs and neckerchiefs available incorporate a chewing aid at the tip. These means that the neckerchief/bib acts as a dribble bib as well as a chewing aid. The chew part is less likely to be lost as it is fixed to the neckerchief, however these items may not be suitable for those with a very strong bite.

Please note: We recommend that all chewing aids are used with adult supervision and are replaced once they show signs of wear. Please inspect the chewing aid regularly and wash with warm soapy water.

Fledglings has a good range of Chewing Aids available at reasonable prices. Please see our Brochure or look on our website at www.fledglings.org.uk. Our helpline staff will be happy to help if you have any further queries.

Information and links regarding challenging behaviours, such as biting and chewing, can be found at:

National Autism Society Website:
 http://www.autism.org.uk/challengingbehaviour
Autism Helpline: 08088 004104

Challenging Behaviour Foundation:
http://www.challengingbehaviour.org.uk/

Many people with special needs will bite or chew, especially those on the Autistic spectrum. There may be a range of reasons for this such as frustration, stress, anxiety, the desire to communicate or the need for sensory stimulation. By chewing or biting a person may find comfort in stimulating their senses, as these activities provide a sensory input to the proprioceptive system. It can also be a reaction to sensory overload.

Chewing and biting can often be seen in the sucking of clothing, particularly at the cuffs and necks of garments as well as the chewing of fingers and other inedible objects. This form of self- stimulating behaviour is often referred to as ‘stimming’. Chewing aids are one way of safely redirecting this behaviour by changing the object on which the person chews to a safer alternative. They can also help strengthen muscles in the mouth and encourage the chewing skills needed for eating and speech. An occupational or speech and language therapist can advise you on the best products and solutions for you.

There is range of chewing aids available, some of the benefits can be seen below;

        • As an oral fidget aid for sensory seekers craving stimulation and proprioceptive input
        • As a safe alternative to chewing on hands, knuckles, cuffs and sleeves, shirts, pencils, etc.
        • As an alternative to tooth-grinding or thumb-sucking
        • To practice biting/chewing safely by using a safe chewing aid, thus avoiding the risk of choking on inappropriate objects.
        • To build oral strength and control
        • Can help with the urge to chew for individuals who are tube fed
        • Chewing aids are usually made of non-toxic medical grade material for added safety.

Please note: Some biting and chewing behaviour can be severe enough that the person may be harming themselves physically and damaging the tissues of their arms, hands and fingers. Every individual’s experiences and behaviour will be different so in instances of severe biting it may be best that professional advice is sought. Be aware that biting and chewing may also be related to physical discomfort, pain in the mouth or another medical issue. If you suspect this may be the case please seek specialist medical or dental advice.

Types of Chewing Aids:

Chew Bangles, oral aids worn on the wrist: Usually made of high grade and resilient material such as medical grade silicone or Therma Elastic Polymer these chewing aids are designed to be worn at the wrist. They are ideal for those who have a tendency to chew on cuffs and wrists. There is range of styles on the market – some have textured surfaces for added sensory stimulation, they may be stretchy or come in a variety of colours and shapes. They can be worn singly or in groups. Be aware that the firmness of the material used varies and some may be more suitable for a strong bite than others. It is best to check with the manufacturer or supplier as well as your OT if you have any queries as to what would be best for you. It is also a good idea to check the product and wash it regularly. Even the strongest material will eventually show signs of wear, especially if the user has a strong bite, so if the bangle becomes damaged it should always be replaced.

Chew Pendants, Necklaces: not everybody gets on with wearing a bangle on the wrist some people may find wearing a chewing aid around the neck more comfortable to use. The pendant should be suspended from a cord or lanyard with a quick release clasp. These should always be used with adult supervision and are not suitable for children under 36 months as the cord can constitute a choking hazard. There are different styles and colours to choose from, some have variable levels of hardness while others are textured and ridged for an added extra sensory experience. Please check the pendant regularly and replace if it shows signs of wear.

• Chewing aids: there are many other different types of chewing aid such as the Chewy tubes, Super Chews, P’s and Q’s, Chew buddies and Ark Grabber. They are tactile and designed to be comfortable to hold in the hand and mouth - some have grip like ‘handles’ for example. They come in a range of different levels of hardness while others have textured or ridged surfaces for added oral stimulation. An OT should be able to advise you on the most suitable product. It may be that if your child has a particularly strong bite they will need a tougher chewing aid made from a more resistant material. Again you would need to check the chewing aid regularly and replace it if it becomes damaged.

Neckerchiefs with chewing aid attached: there are some bibs and neckerchiefs available that incorporate a chewing aid at the tip. These means that the neckerchief/bib acts as a dribble bib as well as a chewing aid. The chewie is less likely to be lost as it is part of the neckerchief, however these items may not be suitable for those with a very strong bite.
Please note: all chewing aids should be used with adult supervision and should be replaced once they show signs of wear. Please inspect the chewing aid regularly and wash with warm soapy water.

Information and links regarding challenging behaviours, such as biting and chewing can be found at;

National Autism Society Website


Challenging Foundation Foundation