Tongue Tie FAQ

tongue tie FAQ, Whether you are an infant, a child or an adult, if you are living with a tongue tie, this can cause significant problems. At Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry, Dr. Ariana can perform a simple examination to detect if a tongue tie is present. From there, our staff can release the tongue tie through a frenectomy, performed with our LightScalpel laser. Many patients and families have questions about tongue ties and our frenectomy procedure. This page compiles the answers to these questions, asked by our very own patients in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley and the surrounding areas in California.

What is a frenum?

A frenum refers to any band of tissue that connects two structures within your body. You have several frenum throughout your body but one of the most well known is the lingual frenum, which connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

What is a tongue tie?

Clinically known as ankyloglossia, a tongue tie occurs when the lingual frenum is too short or tight. This restricts the range of motion in the tongue, which impacts the way you eat, speak and breathe, in addition to negatively affecting facial development. A tongue tie is present from birth; the frenulum tissue naturally thins and shrinks just before a baby is born, allowing their tongue to move freely. However, sometimes, this tissue does not thin or shrink as much as it should.

What issues can a tongue tie cause?

For babies, tongue ties usually manifest issues related to nursing. If a tongue tie is not detected and treated within the first year of life, then the restricted movement in the tongue often leads someone to develop negative habits to compensate for the limited range of motion. These habits develop unconsciously but they can impact swallowing and speech. Moreover, a tongue tie prevents the tongue from achieving the ideal resting posture – pushing gently against the roof of the mouth. This not only encourages mouth breathing, which can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, but also hinders the proper development of the face, jaws and dental arches.

How can I know if I have a tongue tie?

If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of living with a tongue tie, then you should schedule a consultation with one of our Scotts Valley dentists. Until then, just find a mirror and stick out your tongue. If the end looks heart shaped, this is a major indicator that you have a tongue tie, because the shorter frenum is pulling on the end of your tongue. Someone without a tongue tie, if they stick their tongue out, will have a flat-looking tongue.

How do you treat a tongue tie?

We can release a tongue tie by performing a frenectomy. This severs the tongue tie using our LightScalpel laser, a procedure that can be completed in a matter of moments and without the need for general anesthesia. We apply a local anesthetic to the target area, ensuring that you or your child does not feel any discomfort. The laser works quickly, releasing the targeted tissue and immediately cauterizing the site of the incision and sealing any blood vessels. This minimizes bleeding and also significantly reduces the risk of infection from a laser frenectomy.

How should I prepare for a frenectomy?

We encourage the patient to eat a full meal prior to the procedure and get a good night of sleep. We also recommend avoiding caffeine prior to the frenectomy. Any discomfort can be managed with an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen and should subside. You also may want to eat a diet of soft, cold foods for the first few days following the frenectomy, while avoiding foods that are spicy or chewy. We provide thorough after care instructions to each patient or family following a frenectomy.

Why do you prescribe myofunctional therapy before and after a frenectomy?

Myofunctional therapy represents the best option to manage those negative habits mentioned before, which develop to compensate for the limited range of motion in the tongue. This type of therapy entails completing a series of simple exercises that work the tongue, as well as the muscles of the face and mouth. We refer to qualified myofunctional therapists on staff who overse this therapy. Each set of exercises can be completed in a matter of minutes and with little to no discomfort. Each patient is different, but generally speaking, regular participation in myofunctional therapy can resolve any negative habits that formed as a consequence of living with a tongue tie in approximately three to six months.

Diagnosis and treatment of tongue ties in Los Gatos, Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz in California

If you or a member of your family is showing symptoms of a tongue tie, then schedule a consultation with Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry today. Call our office at (831) 438-4411 or contact us online.