Tongue-Ties and Frenectomy

Also referred to as a tongue-tie, ankyloglossia occurs when the frenum, the thin band of tissue located on the underside of the tongue, restricts the tongue’s movement. A frenectomy is the procedure that releases the frenum, a small band of tissue that anchors your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. You will also find frenum tissue along the inside of your cheeks and lips where they attach to your gums.

What Is the Problem with a Tongue-Tie?

The problem is that the tongue is designed to move freely in a gentle rolling-like motion.

When the mouth is at rest, the lips should be closed, teeth lightly together, with the tongue resting along the palate and the tip of the tongue gently resting behind the upper front teeth.

When eating, the tip of the tongue should stay in its resting place, while the rest of the tongue should move in a wave-like pattern to gently push food to the back of the throat to swallow.

If the tongue is not able to move and rest in this way, it can affect one’s oral health and overall health. This is especially true for children as it can interfere with their facial growth and development, even changing their facial appearances.

What Are the Symptoms of a Tongue-Tie?

The symptoms of a tongue-tie may vary, and some or all symptoms may be present in a patient.

Infants:

  • Trouble breastfeeding.
  • Improper latch to mother’s breast.
  • Gumming of the mother’s nipple.
  • Clicking noises while breastfeeding.
  • Unable to drain mother’s breast during feedings.
  • Colic.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Gassy.
  • Low weight gain.
  • Failure to thrive.

Mothers of infants with a tongue-tie may experience symptoms as well, including:

  • Sore or cracked nipples.
  • Mastitis.
  • Plugged ducts.
  • Discomfort while nursing.
  • Compromised milk supply.
  • Lack of sleep (due to frequent feedings).

Toddlers/Children:

  • Snoring.
  • Chewing on the mouth.
  • Skeletal changes.
  • Mouth breathing.
  • Speech impairments and lisps.
  • Difficulty chewing foods and noisy chewing.
  • Behavioral issues, such as ADD/ADHD.
  • Lack of self-confidence.

For children that do not have their tongue-tie released, these symptoms may linger into adulthood and become exacerbated.

Symptoms of tongue-tie in adults may include:

  • Mouth breathing.
  • Speech impairments.
  • Snoring.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Elongated facial appearance.
  • Open bite.
  • Pain in jaw.
  • Tight shoulder and neck muscles.
  • Clenching.
  • Eating difficulties.
  • Low self-esteem.

How Is a Tongue-Tie Treated?

Treating a tongue-tie is relatively simple and is done so by releasing the restriction, known as a frenectomy or frenuloplasty.

This minor surgery is most successful when combined with myofunctional therapy before, during, and after the procedure. This therapy involves the stretching of the frenum, learning a proper swallow and proper rest oral posture, and ensuring the that frenum does not reattach.

Occasionally, a “posterior tongue-tie”, which involves deep bands of tissue that restricts the movement of the back of the tongue, will be present and may require a second surgery to fully release the restriction. Doing adequate myofunctional therapy ahead of time increases the chance that the procedure can be completed in one session.

What Will It Feel Like?

Releasing a tongue-tie can have a transformative effect on your health and well-being. Many adult patients describe feeling an instant release of chronic tension in the neck, shoulders, and jaw, and/or a cessation of clenching habits. Some report a resolution of pain they didn’t know was there until it was gone.

For infants, a tongue-tie release can mean the difference between breastfeeding — and all the benefits that go along with it — or exclusive bottle feeding. Regardless of age, a tongue tie release, or what is often referred to as a frenuloplasty, can be very beneficial.

Contact Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry Today!

If you believe that you or a loved one has ankyloglossia, another term for a tongue-tie, call Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry today (831) 438-4411 to schedule a consultation.

Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry provides total oral health care for patients located in the California communities of Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley.