Do you snore? Clench or grind your teeth? Do you get headaches? Jaw Pain? What about migraines? Is it hard to say certain words? Difficulties with ADHD or ADD? Overall body tension? Breathe through your mouth? You could be tongue-tied.
A tongue-tie involves the string of tissue that connects your tongue to the floor of the mouth. This string of tissue is called a frenum and everyone has one. For some people, that string is tighter than it should be and can be the source of many problems in your mouth and throughout your body.
There are two types of tongue-ties, Anterior and Posterior. Anterior tongue ties are the more obvious of the two types. It’s easily diagnosed because can see it right away when you life the tongue up. The underside of the tongue is connected too tightly to the floor of the mouth, and that the range of motion is restricted. Posterior tongue-ties are a little more challenging to identify. They are more often symptom based or can be hidden by the floor of the mouth compensating to help the tongue function. To learn more about posterior tongue-ties you can (click here).
Why Does A Tongue-Tie Matter?
We all have a lingual frenum (or frenulum). This is the line of tissue that runs under the tongue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In some people, as I mentioned above, it’s restricted, which is why a tongue-tie is also known as a restricted lingual frenum, and sometimes as tethered oral tissue. This restriction can prevent the tongue from moving correctly or from resting in the right place. This can in turn cause a number of symptoms and functional limitations depending on how bad it is.
Tongue position is really important when it comes to our overall health! The tongue should fill up the entire roof of the mouth from front to back. When it’s in this position, it provides a support structure for the upper jaw. When the tongue is in the right place, teeth grow in straighter and the face develops optimally. But a tongue-tie means that the tongue is literally unable to reach the palate all the way, if at all. So it rests in the bottom of your mouth, which is dysfunctional.
People who are tongue-tied often mouth breathe. This leads to a wide range of myofunctional problems and symptoms. Chronic jaw pain, sleep apnea, facial pain, headaches, and clenching and grinding, along with dental and orthodontic issues are common in people with tongue-ties. Research shows that tongue-tied children are at higher risk to develop sleep apnea and airway issues, and their facial and cranial development is also impacted.
What Can I Do To Help?
If you have a tongue-tie, you need a simple procedure known as a frenctomy. During my assessments, I evaluate every patient to confirm whether or not the procedure would be beneficial. If the frenectomy surgery is needed, then it is crucial to prepare with exercises both before and after to get the best results. Once the surgery is complete, it is vital to meet with me within the first 24 hours to check the healing and teach additional exercises to strengthen and gain muscle control over the tongue’s new mobility. Re-training the tongue is a crucial step to the process because the muscles in the tongue have never properly been used. These muscles need to be trained and activated through myofunctional therapy to keep the tongue from re-attaching to the original place. I have seen many patients need to have a second procedure, because they did not prepare for the first.
I will help you coordinate your exercise sessions with your doctor performing the procedure so your treatment is perfectly timed.
Tongue-Tie Symptoms in Babies
Breastfeeding problems are often linked to tongue-tie concerns in babies. Sometimes, a tongue-tied baby may be able to breastfeed without any trouble, so it may go undiagnosed or recognized.
The restriction caused by a tongue-tie can lead to changes in the development of the mouth, face, and skull, often accompanied with an open mouth resting posture or mouth breathing in children. This can in turn lead to symptoms including speech difficulties, ADD and ADHD, sleep disordered breathing conditions such as sleep apnea, and jaw and facial pain and tension.
The International Journal of Pediatric Research said it best:
“Children with untreated short frenulum developed abnormal tongue function early in life with secondary impact on orofacial growth and sleep disordered breathing (SDB). The changes in orofacial growth related to factors including short lingual frenulum lead to SDB and mouth breathing very early in life.
Recognition and treatment of short frenulum early in life – at birth if possible – would improve normal orofacial growth.”
Addressing the tongue-tie from the start could save you a lot of health problems into adulthood. Being proactive is the key.