Tongue tie...what's that?

Have you ever heard of the term tongue tie? It's kind of a funny concept but it means your tongue is literally attached to the floor of the mouth. The medical term for this is ankyloglossia. Sometimes a tongue tie is also called tethered oral tissue (TOT). Your tongue is tied down by a string of tissue called a frenum. There are 7 frenums in the mouth and if the lingual frenum is too "short" or "embedded" it causes the tongue to be restricted. Having a restricted tongue can prevent it from resting on the palate and allowing the lips to seal. If the tongue is restricted and cannot move properly, our other muscles compensate, leading to a dysfunctional habit such as mouth breathing and tongue thrusting. It is important to note that a tongue tie can be anterior and/or a posterior. Sometimes it's very difficult to identify, even for medical professionals.

 

Having a tongue tie is treatable though so don't fret!

Oral surgeons and some dentists who have been trained to give what's called a frenectomy, frenulectomy, frenulotomy, or frenuloplasty. These are variations of a similar treatment where the frenum or tight oral tissue is cut allowing the tongue or other frenum(s) to be freed. This is a very common treatment these days as tongue tie and airway health have become more mainstream in the last decade. And lucky for us the treatment is fast, simple, and will heal quickly because our mouths are one of the fastest healing parts of the whole body! 

Having a tongue tie is similar to many other muscular and skeletal problems like having a bad shoulder, back, or knee. Most people will seek out a physical therapist to help strength train weak muscle groups as instructed by their Doctors. Your tongue is the strongest muscle in your entire body, so you want it trained well! It's really important to coordinate with a myofunctional therapist before any surgery so exercises can be given before and after. A myofunctional therapist will help get your muscles ready for their new range of motion, teach you how to care for the wound, and give post op exercises so your tongue doesn't re-attach.