Being tongue-tied isn’t just a figure of speech. It’s a very real medical condition that can affect oral and facial development, and have a range of other serious health consequences.
A tongue-tie used to be thought of as something that only affected babies and breastfeeding. But new research shows that the problems associated with a tongue-tie can affect both children and adults of all ages. Releasing a tongue-tie is now an integral part of achieving optimal oral and dental health.
What is a Tongue-Tie?
A tongue-tie is also known as a restricted lingual frenum or tethered oral tissue (TOT). The Frenum is the line or band of tissue under the tongue that we all have. It connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. For some, the frenum is too tight or too short, and it can actually restrict the movement of the tongue, as well as prevent it from resting in the correct place. A similar tissue connection can be found inside your upper and lower lips as well.
Why Does it Matter?
Your tongue should fill up the entire roof of your mouth. When it does, it provides an internal support structure for the upper jaw. If your tongue is in the right place, your teeth will grow in straighter and your face will develop properly. A tongue-tie keeps your tongue in the bottom of your mouth.
For some people, it’s tighter or thicker than it should be, and this can physically restrict the movement of the tongue.
A tongue-tie can also be referred to as Ankyloglossia or Tethered Oral Tissue (TOT) and can cause the following symptoms.
- Speech issues
- Mouth breathing
- Jaw pain, clenching and grinding
- Head, neck, and shoulder tension
- Forward head posture
- Snoring, sleep-disordered breathing, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS), and sleep apnea
- Increased risk of cavities and gum disease
- Slower orthodontic treatment
- Orthodontic relapse
Tongue Tie & Breast Feeding
Breastfeeding is one of the first ways a tongue tie can be noticed. When mothers have trouble breastfeeding, a tongue tie can often be to blame. However, if babies are bottle-fed, or meet weight-gain and growth markers, the tongue-tie can be missed or overlooked.
Just because a mother managed to breastfeed her baby doesn’t mean that tongue-tie isn’t an issue. Many times, a nurse or lactation consultant will notice a tongue tie but not recommend a release because the baby is gaining weight.
From a myofunctional perspective, the tongue tie still needs to be released so that proper oral-facial and skeletal development can take place.
Treating a Tongue-Tie
Most often, a tongue-tie must be treated surgically. This procedure can be called a frenectomy, frenotomy or frenulectomy. Serenity Valley Family Dentistry has been doing these procedures since 2017 using either the Solea laser or traditional surgical methods.
There’s more to treating a tongue tie than just releasing it, and this is where myofunctional therapy comes in.
It’s very important to do myofunctional therapy exercises for at least two to three weeks before the frenectomy. This helps prepare for the procedure by strengthening the muscles of the tongue, which means less surgical complications and better healing after surgery.
After the frenectomy, caring for the wound is also critical. The mouth and tongue heal rapidly so it’s possible that the tongue will reattach, meaning it will literally heal back down the way it was. We will meet with you immediately following the release to guide you through caring for the wound and show the new gentle exercises necessary to keep your range of motion gained from surgery. This allows the tissues to heal without restrictions and affecting the end result.
What’s a Lip-Tie?
A lip-tie is similar to a tongue tie, and the two are often seen together.
With lip-ties, the small seams that we all have on the midline between our lips and gums are too short or thick, causing restricted lip movement. This can have a major impact on breastfeeding and speech, as well as dental development.
At Serenity Valley Family Dentistry, Lip-ties are treated exactly the same way as a tongue tie; the tie is surgically released, and myofunctional therapy exercises are prescribed.
Have more questions?
Call us to learn more or schedule a consultation. (701) 373-0681