San Francisco and Marin CA
A tongue-tie occurs when the string of tissue that tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short, limiting the range of motion in the tongue. You’re either born with a tongue-tie or you’re not. It’s not something that develops later in life. About 10% of babies are born with tongue-ties, which can affect their ability to nurse and may result in failure to thrive. Unfortunately, many tongue-ties go undiagnosed. Even worse, sometimes physicians inform parents that their baby’s tongue-tie isn’t a big deal. This could not be further from the truth. Read on to learn more.
What are the consequences of an untreated tongue-tie?
An untreated tongue-tie can lead to airway problems later in life because of a narrow or underdeveloped jaw. In individuals without a tongue-tie, their tongues should rest along the roof of their mouth. This gentle pressure from the tongue helps the upper palate and jaw grow and expand to allow enough room for teeth to erupt. The absence of this tongue pressure, like in tongue-tied individuals, causes a narrow upper palate, an elongated face, and narrow airway.
What’s the big deal with a narrow airway?
A narrow airway is a problem because it increases the risk of obstructive sleep apnea and also restricts airflow. Reduced airflow leads to lower blood oxygenation levels, which can cause the heart to overwork by pumping more blood throughout the body. And for the brain, low oxygen levels kill brain cells, which never regenerate. Additionally, these effects increase the body’s inflammatory response, leading to chronic inflammation, a precursor to comorbidities and deadly diseases like cancer.
What does my tongue have to do with my airway?
The most telltale sign of sleep apnea is snoring. On its own and independent of sleep apnea, snoring is a sign that your body isn’t getting enough air. Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that will not go away on its own. It requires professional treatment to manage the condition. Without proper treatment, sleep apnea has serious side effects like an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes
How are tongue-ties treated?
If you snore because of a tongue-tie, treatment is simple with laser dentistry. A frenectomy is a procedure that releases the tongue-tie. At Glen Park Dental, we use a precise dental laser to release tongue-ties on patients of all ages, even infants. Laser surgery is the preferred method to release tongue-ties because the laser cauterizes as it goes, reducing bleeding, discomfort and results in a shorter recovery.
What happens after a frenectomy?
A frenectomy takes seconds and afterward, you can resume your usual activities. You will have minimal bleeding and little risk of post-operative infection. The area may be slightly tender for a few days, and you may want to eat foods that are non-spicy and easy to chew. We will instruct you to stretch the area and your tongue to prevent the tissue from growing back. Children and adults may also benefit from myofunctional therapy, which trains the tongue to move and rest properly to encourage nasal breathing and proper swallowing patterns.
Tongue-Tie Treatment for Adults in Marin and the Bay Area of California
Tongue-ties won’t go away on their own and require professional treatment. It’s best to treat tongue-ties as soon as possible in life, although adults can benefit from frenectomies as well. Learn more about tongue-tie treatment or find out if you’re a candidate for a frenectomy by calling Glen Park Dental at (415) 585-1500 or visit us online to schedule a consultation today.