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Tongue Tie Myths

tongue tie mythSan Francisco and Marin CA

According to Harvard Medical School, tongue ties affect approximately 8% of all babies. If someone suffers from ankyloglossia (the clinical term for a tongue tie), then this is there from birth. A tongue tie means the lingual frenum – a band of tissue that connects from the underside of the tongue to the bottom of the mouth – is too short, and therefore restricts the tongue’s range of motion. Glen Park Dental can help; one of our dentists, Dr. Kimberlee Dickerson, specializes in the detection and treatment of tongue ties in patients of any age. Through the years, we have learned that many of our patients have misconceptions about tongue ties. We attempt to debunk some of those myths on this page.

Myth 1: A tongue tie can go away on its own

This is completely false and based around the notion that a tongue can stretch itself out later in life. First, a tongue tie can only be resolved through diagnosis and treatment from a trained medical professional like Dr. Dickenson at Glen Park Dental. Secondly, a tongue cannot stretch out to a greater length by itself. Your lingual frenum, that aforementioned band of tissue connecting the tongue to the mouth floor, is thick and strong and not especially yielding. In actuality, a tongue tie could further restrict movement as time passes, if the frenum thickens and becomes more fibrous as the patient ages.

Myth 2: Babies with tongue ties have no difficulty swallowing

The exact opposite is true. Infants with tongue ties often experience issues with nursing, which may include a failure to latch, difficulty sucking, failure to thrive or slower weight gain. This also can cause complications for mothers, who may experience pain when they nurse, have difficulty emptying when they nurse or have difficulty fostering a bond with their newborn.

Myth 3: A tongue tie does not make you snore

False. Restricted movement in the tongue could mean the tongue slides back into the airway obstructing breathing, especially during sleep, and creating the airway blockages that take place when someone has the sleep breathing disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. A significant number of adults with sleep apnea might develop the sleep breathing disorder because they also are living with an undiagnosed tongue tie.

Myth 4: It hurts to have a tongue tie released

Modern dentistry makes the release of a tongue tie – a procedure called a frenectomy – more convenient and comfortable than ever. Glen Park Dental performs this procedure with the use of a soft tissue laser. Wielding this laser, Dr. Dickerson can sever the restricted frenum in a matter of seconds, regardless of how old the patient is. We apply a local anesthetic before the procedure and any discomfort after a frenectomy should be mild and able to be managed through over-the-counter relievers like Tylenol or Ibuprofen.

Myth 5: Infections are common after a frenectomy

Many people believe this myth because, following the release of a tongue tie, the skin at the target site might turn yellowish in color or the patient may suddenly have bad-smelling breath. In reality, both yellow skin and bad breath are common symptoms after a frenectomy, especially when the procedure is performed on infants. Laser dentistry makes an infection even less likely. The laser immediately cauterizes and seals any incisions, reducing bleeding and significantly lowering the risk of infection.

Tongue-tie diagnosis and treatment in San Francisco and Marin California

Whether a tongue tie is affecting a newborn infant or a full-grown adult, you can trust Dr. Dickerson and the team at Glen Park Dental to identify and treat this issue. Schedule a consultation today by calling (415) 585-1500 or completing our online contact form.