Identifying Jaw Clenching

By Pam Marshalla

Q: How do you tell if a client is clenching the jaw when producing a target phoneme?

The best way to determine if a client is clenching is to palpate the masseters.

Do this on yourself first to learn the feeling. Place your fingertips on your masseters and then clench. Do you feel the bulge?

Now do this with your client. If the jaw is clenching you will feel the muscle belly bulge. If it isn’t, then you won’t.

4 thoughts on “Identifying Jaw Clenching”

  1. I am working with a 4-year-old student who talks with his teeth clenched. It has a large impact on his speech intelligibility in conversational/connected speech. This is the first time I have worked with a student who has demonstrated these behaviors- Is teeth clenching with speech common? Are there any recommended speech therapy treatments? He has been receptive to verbal and visual models, with direct prompts to “open mouth wide” when producing the vowel sounds at the word level.

    -School-based SLP

    1. Did you find any help? I now have this new condition as an adult due to dystonia and would like to be able to regain my speech. I get Botox on the masseters sand neck but helps only a little.

  2. Hi Ally
    I am dealing with the same and am not sure where to start in treatment. I haven’t been able to find much information? did you have any luck?

  3. I have the same issue. I suspect he has his tongue pushed up against his alveolar ridge for stability. I hear sounds from the velum, like he’s raising and lowering it against his pharyngeal wall. I wonder if it a learned strategy, because so far I’ve been able to get his jaw briefly lowered for “ah” while watching someone else. We’ve also practiced moving his tongue up and side-to-side with a cheerio on the tongue tip–which he thinks is hysterical. Also, he grinds his teeth while he’s playing in the day, but not at night while sleeping. I’d love to find out more if you get a response!

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