San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Have you ever been tongue-tied? That happens to everyone when they get their words mixed up while talking. Having a tongue-tie, on the other hand, is quite different. Clinically known as ankyloglossia, a tongue-tie is a medical issue that affects nearly 3 million Americans every year, according to the Mayo Clinic. Today on the blog, Glen Park Dental explores this condition, its potential consequences, and how we can provide relief.
Tongue-ties and Health
There is a small band of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Sometimes, this tissue is too short and restrictive, resulting in what is called a tongue-tie. This restriction impacts the tongue’s range of motion.
You’re either born with a tongue-tie or not. It’s not something that can develop later in life. Living with an untreated tongue-tie has consequences. The longer the tongue-tie remains, your body compensates for the lack of motion by forming unconscious habits that are detrimental to your oral health and overall wellness.
The consequences of an untreated tongue-tie may include any of the following:
- Mouth breathing
- Increased risk of developing a sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea
- Problems with speech, development of speech in children, or a speech impediment as an adult
- Difficulty chewing and swallowing solid food
- For infants, problems breastfeeding, which could manifest as difficulty latching, having to feed very frequently or failure to thrive
- Increased vulnerability to developing temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMJ disorder)
The Benefits of a Functional Frenectomy
“Functional frenectomy” is more than just a tongue-twisting phrase. It’s also a procedure that the experts at Glen Park Dental can perform to release a tongue-tie and restore the full range of motion. Dr. Kimberlee Dickerson specializes in this procedure. She can release the tissue, often in just a matter of seconds, using a precise dental laser. This procedure can be performed on patients of any age, even infants. In most cases, a frenectomy may be performed in conjunction with a course of myofunctional therapy—a series of exercises working the orofacial muscles to overcome any disorders or bad habits formed as a consequence of the tongue-tie. One of the goals of myofunctional therapy is to achieve the ideal resting oral posture. This means, when you aren’t eating or speaking, your oral system should be at rest with the lips closed, teeth closed, and the tongue resting gently against the roof of the mouth.
Identifying A Tongue-Tie
If you believe you or someone you love has a tongue-tie, you’ll want to know the signs of this condition. Tongue-ties can be difficult to diagnose, particularly if you or your child has the rarer form of the disorder, a posterior tongue-tie. Because of the complexity of this issue, an accurate diagnosis can be made only by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Dickerson or one of the other medical professionals at Glen Park Dental.
In the meantime, look for these signs of the disorder:
- A heart-shaped or short tongue that is being pulled down from the center
- Identifying a misshapen tongue when it is moved forward or slightly lifted
- The ability to see or feel a firm tissue where the tongue meets the mouth
- Inability to latch or suckle in infants and newborns
- The inability of toddlers to articulate properly or, in some instances, eat well
Tongue-Tie Treatment in San Francisco
If you live in the areas of San Francisco, Marin and Oakland in California, Glen Park Dental can treat tongue-ties for any member of your family. Treatment for tongue-ties doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Alternatively, if you’re an adult still struggling with a tongue-tie, don’t continue to live with the negative health consequences. Our interdisciplinary approach to diagnosing, releasing, and treating tongue-ties can help any family member restore normal function. Make your appointment today by calling (415) 585-1500.