Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley CA
A frenulum is a small band of tissue that control or limit the range of motion of a mobile organ in the body, with the most common ones located under the lips and the tongue. Many people, however, have a frenulum that is too short or tight, abnormally restricting the range of motion, and in these cases known as a tongue- or lip-tie. A tongue-tie is probably the most well known of these. If you or your child has a tongue-tie, then the range of motion of the tongue is hindered. Over time, this restriction can pose significant consequences on speech, nutrition, breathing, sleep, and so many other vital parts of life. Our Los Gatos laser dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry want to make sure you are aware of the possible risks of living with an untreated tongue-tie, and what you can do about it.
A tongue-tie develops from birth, so you either are born with it or not. It isn’t something that can develop later on in life. Infants with tongue-tie experience issues breastfeeding, which can lead to a failure to thrive, among other problems.
Breastfeeding difficulties often can be linked to the presence of a tongue-tie in the baby. These difficulties may include problems maintaining a latch, failure to thrive, colic, a diminished bond between the mother and infant, or early termination of breastfeeding. Women who are nursing can experience their own problems if their baby has a tongue-tie: pain while nursing, nipple damage, or even mental issues such as depression or an overwhelming sense of failure all can manifest if a tongue-tie is complicating the breastfeeding process. Stopping breastfeeding isn’t going to solve the underlying problem. In fact, ignoring your child’s tongue-tie could lead to even more problems throughout their development.
Children could experience issues speaking, chewing, and swallowing due to a tongue-tie
It could start very early in life, with problems incorporating solid foods into the diet. As a child with a tongue-tie gets older, more digestive or eating difficulties can be expected—problems chewing and swallowing chief among them. A child with a tongue-tie also may have issues with speech development or experience abnormal growth of the jaw, which results in a narrow upper palate that is directly tied to the cause of a narrow airway and the development of sleep apnea. Speech issues can affect self-confidence, especially in school or when trying to make friends. Meanwhile, living with a tongue-tie into childhood means the body has begun to adapt for the limits in range of motion by developing unconscious, negative habits that actually become a greater hindrance to oral health and function. One of the most common of these habits is frequently breathing through the mouth, which has its own host of negative consequences, ranging from lower oxygen levels in the blood to even greater vulnerability to developing a sleep breathing disorder.
The older you get, the more consequences a tongue-tie has on your health and lifestyle
By the time someone with a tongue-tie reaches adulthood, those negative adaptive habits are well established. An adult living with a tongue-tie may suffer from malnutrition because of problems chewing and swallowing food. He or she might have a speech impediment or have developed sleep apnea because of the mouth breathing that develops as compensation for the restricted motion of the tongue. A person living with a tongue-tie into adulthood also faces a higher risk of temporomandibular joint disorder, manifesting in jaw pain, hearing a clicking sound as the jaws open or close, or even painful headaches that occur on a regular basis.
The best course of action for any tongue-tie is having it released. Modern laser dentistry allows our laser dentists in Scotts Valley to treat a tongue-tie without the need for surgery or extensive recovery.
Some people think that a tongue-tie is no big deal and that any problems caused by it will go away as you age. Drs. Max and Ariana Ebrahimian are here to tell you that is not the case. No matter their age, or how young they might be, a tongue-tie needs to be released—restoring full range of motion to the tongue. This procedure is known as a functional frenuloplasty, which involves using a laser to simply release the restriction of the tissue. After the tongue-tie has been released, we also can prescribe a series of exercises known as myofunctional therapy to correct any negative habits that developed in compensation for the limited range of motion.
Ready to find out more? Call (831) 438-4411 to make an appointment with Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry if you live in the areas of Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California.