San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Did you know that nearly 10% of babies are born with tethered oral tissue or TOT? Tethered oral tissue can result in a tongue or lip-tie, which restricts the movement of the tongue or lips. If left untreated, tethered oral tissue may result in delayed speech, speech impediments, breastfeeding difficulty, and facial growth and development issues.
If you or your child has tethered oral tissue, your Bay Area family dentists at Glen Park Dental can easily and painlessly perform a procedure called a frenectomy to release the restricted tissue.
What is a tongue-tie?
Medically referred to as ankyloglossia, a tongue-tie involves the frenum that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. If this tissue is too short, thick or tight, the tongue is unable to move like it should when breathing, resting, or swallowing.
What is a lip-tie?
Known as an upper labial tie, a lip-tie has a similar effect as a tongue-tie but involves the frenum tissue on the underside of the upper lip. When a lip-tie is present, the lips may not be able to fully close when in a resting position causing dry mouth, an increased risk of cavities, or gapped front teeth when the frenum is excessively thick.
Health Effects of TOT
Tethered oral tissue can have a profound impact on babies, especially those that nurse. If you are a nursing mother and your baby has tethered oral tissue, you may notice the following warning signs:
- Frequent feedings that occur every 2 hours or less
- Crying or gagging while nursing
- Shallow latch to bottle or breast
- Loud feeding
- Calloused lips
Impact on New Moms
As a new mom, nursing your baby may already seem like a bit of a challenge. However, certain challenges may persist if your baby has tethered oral tissue. If you experience the following symptoms yourself, your baby may need to receive an evaluation by a myofunctional therapist in the Bay Area at Glen Park Dental.
- Nipple damage
- Pain in the breasts or mastitis
- Breasts are full of milk at the conclusion of the feeding
- Lack of sleep due to the baby being irritable
- Low milk supply
Impact on Children
Maybe your child is a little older and past the nursing or bottle feeding stage. If this is the case, you should be on the lookout for the following concerns that may indicate your child has tethered oral tissue.
- Gapped front teeth
- Mouth breathing
- Poor oral posture, the mouth is open all of the time
- Oral and speech development issues (difficulty making certain sounds)
- Difficulty swallowing solid food
- Strong gag reflex
- Limited tongue movement abilities
Impact on Adults
You may be reviewing this page while wondering if you could have tethered oral tissue.
Consider the following as signs of TOT in adults:
- Restricted airway that results in a sleep breathing disorder or sleep apnea
- Crowded, crooked, or misaligned teeth or jaw
- TMJ disorder
- Mouth breathing
- Speech impediments
- Stomach or digestion issues
- Long narrow face
Tongue or Lip-Tie Release
If it is determined that tethered oral tissue is present, the restricted tissue must be released in order to stop the ongoing symptoms and long-term health effects. Dr. Dickerson can release the tissue, which will allow for proper movement of the tongue or lip. For infants, the release takes only seconds and can usually be done without using any anesthetic. Most babies learn to latch properly after their tongue-tie release.
For adults, a tongue-tie release is also a viable and beneficial treatment option. However, in any case of a tongue or lip-tie release, we recommend our patients start and follow up with a series of exercises known as myofunctional therapy. This helps to retrain the oral muscles on how to work properly and to correct any negative oral behaviors that you have adapted to throughout the years.
The best way to determine if you or someone that you love has tethered oral tissue is to come in for a consultation with Dr. Dickerson. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, please contact our office by calling (415) 799-3900.
Glen Park Dental is proud to serve the oral health needs of patients in Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.