Tongue –tie is not a myth …is a reality.
Present in more than 5% of the population that was once believed to be affected, is it still highly under diagnosed.
The tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia , is the physical limitation of the tongue to move functionally due to the presence of a tight/ short attachment of the tongue to the floor of the mouth- called frenum/ frenulum.
This restriction is not something that we acquire through life; is genetically inherited and that means that one of the parents has it, too.
That also means that is there from day 1 and early detection and intervention is paramount.
Why is that?
A restricted tongue, unable to reach and give support to the upper jaw, has an impact on how the mouth, face and even the skull develop; furthermore is not unusual that children with tongue tie to present mouth open posture and even be mouth breathers.
Moreover, the effects of a tongue tie can have a ripple effect affecting other areas of the body, like posture alteration, due to compensation by muscle recruitment.
Starting with infancy, a tethered tongue will predispose to difficult breastfeeding with poor and painful latching further triggering colic and agitating the baby, poor weight gain, reflux- that often gets treated with medication, and ultimately inadequate feedings resorting to bottle feeding.
Besides the functional effects, a restricted tongue will set up for structural deficiencies, too, growing smaller jaws and leading to restricted airway.
Often overlooked in infancy, the effects of the tongue tie may continue to resurface in childhood under different clinical manifestations:
• Speech difficulties with unsuccessful Speech therap;
• Mouth-breathing - with all the functional and structural implications
• Train nasal breathing - ensuring lip seal and eliminating the lateral pressure of the cheeks;
• Snoring/ sleep apnea - as showed by studies;
• Tiredness, hyperactivity, lack of focus;
• Picky eating- avoiding hard to chew & swallow consistencies
• Digestive problems/ bloating/ burping
• Overactive gag reflex
• Grinding/ clenching- day or nighttime
• Jaw pain/headaches
• Posture changes
Continuing in adulthood, more signs will add to the clinical picture.
Yes, we will thrive but what is the cost?
•Aggravated Sleep disorder/ sleep apnea due to restricted air-way
• General chronic stress and inflammation/ constant flight of flight status
• Frequent and persistent headaches and neck/ shoulders pain
• Progressive posture changes
A myofunctional assessment will be the first step on understanding the severity of the restriction and plan for the appropriate treatment.
Sometimes a tongue-tie release procedure, also known as a frenectomy, is recommended.
This is a fairly simple intervention and has reduced risks when handled by tongue-tie trained professionals ( Dentist, ENT, Oral Surgeon).
The success of the procedure also relies on good planning working with a myofunctional therapist prior to and after the release.
Before the release, this training will target strength and coordination of the tongue movements necessary after the release to prevent the reattachment.
The optimal results depend on post- frenectomy myofunctional training integrating nasal breathing, proper tongue rest position and function.
First step is a thorough assessment.
We are here to answer all your concerns.