San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Our tongues are responsible for assisting in speaking, chewing, swallowing, and breathing. It’s known as the strongest muscle in the human body and is constantly working even when you don’t even think about it. However, if you’re tongue-tied, your tongue’s range of motion is limited, affecting how it does its job. Many people have never heard of a tongue-tie or use it as a synonym when referencing someone who is too shy to speak. But, did you know that tongue-tied has an actual medical meaning?
Today on the blog, Glen Park Dental wants to share what it means to be tongue-tied. Plus, learn how our myofunctional therapists in the Bay Area can help even the youngest of patients battling tongue-ties.
What a tongue-tie means
Our tongues are tethered to the floor of our mouths by a thin string of tissue referred to as a frenum. Not sure what we are talking about? Take a look in the mirror, open your mouth, and lift your tongue as high as you can. That string-like tissue on the underside of your tongue is the frenum. If it is too thick or short, it restricts the tongue’s movement. If you are tongue-tied, you might not be able to stick your tongue out of your mouth very far or open your mouth wide and touch your upper teeth with the tip of your tongue.
So what if I’m tongue-tied?
Being tongue-tied means that your tongue isn’t able to do the job for which it was designed to do. It affects how you eat, swallow, speak, and breathe. A young child or even an adult with a tongue-tie may experience food intolerances or be dubbed as a “picky eater.” They may gag easily or exhibit an open mouth posture when eating and swallowing. Also, a tongue-tie could prevent you from breathing nasally, resulting in open mouth posture, mouth breathing, or a recessed chin or overbite. In many instances, a tongue-tie affects speech. An untreated tongue-tie impacts facial growth and development and could lead to embarrassment or feeling insecure about one’s looks.
Tongue-tied infants may experience difficulty forming a proper latch onto their mother’s breast, which leads to colic-like behaviors, irritability, and frequent feedings. This often may result in low milk supply for the mother and excessive fatigue due to the frequent feedings as the baby isn’t getting enough milk when nursing.
How did I get tongue-tied?
It actually happens during fetal development. So, you’re either born tongue-tied, or you’re not. It’s not something you can develop later in life. But, the good news is that Glen Park Dental offers laser dentistry in the Bay Area. We offer a simple and quick procedure to release the restriction and provide therapy to help your tongue adapt to its newfound freedom.
How are tongue-ties treated?
Used to, tongue-ties were surgically clipped, a procedure known as a frenectomy. While this practice is effective and still in use today, the healing time is much longer than a laser frenectomy in San Francisco. Laser dentistry is far more precise, results in less bleeding and much shorter recovery time. It’s even appropriate and safe to perform on infants. Following the procedures, you are given specific massage and stretching exercises to ensure the tissue does not reattach. For children and adults, myofunctional therapy is often recommended, which consists of a series of orofacial exercises that train the tongue how to move properly when swallowing and to rest along the roof of the mouth when breathing.
What to do if you think you have a tongue-tie
If you believe that you may have a tongue-tie or want to know what to do if you can’t get your baby to latch when nursing, consider scheduling a consultation with Glen Park Dental. For more information about frenectomies or how to know if you are tongue-tied, call (415) 585-1500. Our office is located in San Francisco, convenient to Marin and Oakland, California.