Cat got your Tongue? What it means to really be Tongue-Tied

Categories: Tongue Tie


Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body and is responsible for helping you swallow, chew, speak, and breathe. Additionally, your tongue is constantly at work even when you’re unaware of it. Unfortunately, when you’re tongue-tied, your tongue’s movement and range of motion are limited. Although many people are unaware or have not heard about tongue ties, it can sometimes reference someone who has challenges when speaking or is too shy to talk, hence the saying, “Cat got your tongue?” Today on the blog, our Scotts Valley dentists share what it means to really be tongue-tied and what treatments are available.

What is a tongue-tie?

Your tongue connects to the bottom of your mouth with a thin string of tissue clinically known as a frenum. When you look in the mirror, open your mouth, and lift your tongue as far as possible, you can see this connecting tissue. However, in cases where the frenum is too short or thick, it can drastically reduce the range of motion for your tongue. Our dentists in Santa Cruz that treat tongue-tied patients explain that those who have a tongue tie may not be able to stick their tongue out very far or open their mouth wide enough to touch their upper teeth with their tongue’s tip.

Why should I care if I’m tongue-tied?

When your tongue connects too closely to the bottom of your mouth, it’s not effectively doing the job it was designed to do. Our Los Gatos dentists explain that your tongue is a vital organ that affects how you swallow, breathe, speak, and eat. In some cases, young children and adults who suffer from a tongue-tie may have various food intolerances or are known as “picky eaters.” But, on the other hand, they may easily gag or maintain open mouth posture when chewing. Additionally, patients with a tongue-tie could struggle with nasal breathing, resulting in a continuous open mouth posture, a recessed chin or overbite, or mouth breathing. Finally, many patients struggle with speech, especially when an untreated tongue-tie alters facial growth and development, potentially leading to embarrassment or insecurity.

Infants with a shortened frenum may encounter challenges when latching onto their mother’s breast, often resulting in frequent feedings, colic-like behaviors, and irritability. In most cases, it can lead to a low milk supply from the mother and excessive fatigue because of regular feedings since the baby doesn’t receive enough milk.

What is the treatment for patients with a tongue tie?

Traditionally, tongue ties get surgically clipped during a procedure known as a frenectomy. Although this practice remains effective and used today, more effective treatments are available with advancements in dentistry. Patients with tongue-ties can now experience faster healing times with a laser frenectomy in Santa Cruz. Laser dentistry yields more precise results with less bleeding and shorter recovery times. Furthermore, the procedure is appropriate and safe for infants. In most cases of infant tongue-tie release in Scotts Valley, anesthesia isn’t even necessary because the procedure takes only a few seconds.

Our Scotts Valley family dentists will provide specific stretching and massage exercises to prevent tissue reattachment following the procedure. For school-aged children and adults, myofunctional therapy can benefit the patient with a series of orofacial exercises that retrain the tongue to move when speaking or swallowing and rest correctly along the roof of the mouth with the lips sealed, breathing nasally.

Tongue-Tie Treatment in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California

A tongue-tie can create additional oral and physical complications when left unaddressed. Since your tongue has a big responsibility, it must maintain the ability and range to do so effectively. Therefore, if you believe you may have a tongue tie, feel free to contact our Los Gatos dentists who treat tongue ties at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry. Call us at (831) 438-4411 or book a consultation online today.