A tongue-tie is also known as a restricted lingual frenum or tethered oral tissue (TOT). The frenum is the line or band of tissue under the tongue. This tissue connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In some cases the frenum is too short or too tight and will restrict the movement of the tongue. As a result of this tight attachment the tongue doesn’t learn to move the way it was designed to. When this happens, it prevents the tongue from resting in its proper place against the palate in the roof of the mouth.
This restricted movement of the tongue can cause airway issues especially during sleep. If the tongue doesn’t have the ability, coordination and strength to rest in the palate during the day it won’t be able to at night. The weak tongue can then partially block the airway as you sleep. In an attempt to open up the airway to breathe better, the lower jaw slides forward. This dysfunctional grinding pattern can cause chronic jaw pain, facial pain, headaches, and clenching along with other dental and orthodontic issues.
Treating a tongue-tie is actually a simple, fast and painless procedure. The tethered tissue is released using a laser or scissors and sutures. It should be done by a dentist trained and experienced in performing a frenectomy or a functional frenuloplasty.
Studies have shown it is critical to do myofunctional therapy exercises six weeks before the procedure to have a successful outcome. The myofunctional exercises will help strengthen and prepare the muscles of the tongue for the new range of motions it will experience after surgery. Caring for the wound post surgery is vital to prevent the tissue from reattaching.
The tongue and the oral muscles will need to be retrained and strengthened after the frenum is released. Think of it like any other surgery where rehabilitation is required. The muscles in the tongue have never learned to move or rest in the proper position. In this case, myofunctional therapy is physical therapy for your mouth. The good news is the treatment is easy and the results are completely transforming!