Unresolved Tongue-Tie

Effects of Unresolved Tongue-Tie on Adults

Tongue-tie is a condition in which the tongue has restricted movement. In newborns, tongue-tie can interfere with breastfeeding and lead to failure to thrive. If tongue-tie is resolved with a frenectomy aka frenotomy when a baby is still a newborn, many potential problems are averted.

Unfortunately, and perhaps strangely, much confusion surrounds a puzzling question of whether tongue-tie is a condition which needs to be addressed. Many physicians have adopted the philosophy of essentially denying the plethora of problems a restricted tongue can cause. As a result, many people grow up to adulthood forced to deal with limitations caused by a restricted tongue.

A Definition of Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie is defined by one source as a malformation that causes a speech impediment. The medical name for tongue-tie is ankyloglossia, and another source says that it’s a condition existing from birth in which the range of the tongue’s motion is restricted. Typically, a tight or thick band of tissue called the “lingual frenulum” tethers the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.

Developmental Issues Caused by Tongue-Tie

Numerous problems are resolved for a newborn with tongue-tie by having a quick, simple procedure that only becomes more complicated with age. After the baby stage has passed, the following are more of the problems faced by growing children and adults with tongue-tie:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Certain letters and sounds are difficult to say
  • Poor sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Mouth breathing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Lisp
  • Tooth decay is a greater risk, even with frequent brushing, because of inability to use the tongue to swipe food off of teeth
  • Jaw, neck, and back pain
  • Migraines
  • Posture that slumps forward
  • Certain food texture aversions

Adult Tongue-Tie Surgery

If any of the above-named symptoms apply to you and you believe you may have adult tongue-tie, the following are more indications that a frenectomy would be a benefit. These may be used by a professional during an assessment of tongue restriction.

  • You have a strong gag reflex.
  • There is a visible skin flap under the tongue.
  • When you stick out your tongue straight, you are unable to lift the tip without movement in the rest of the tongue.
  • If you open your mouth as wide as possible, you cannot reach the spot behind your upper front teeth while the jaw fully remains open.
  • Your tongue cannot comfortably wipe across the outer sides of your lower and upper back teeth.
  • Your tongue cannot comfortably reach where your gums and cheeks connect.

In addition, if you cannot move your closed lips from side to side without the entire jaw moving, you may have a lip tie, which means movement is restricted by an attachment of skin.

Newborn Frenotomy vs Adult Frenotomy

Research shows that a frenotomy does not seem to cause discomfort or distress in newborns. Babies 6 months old and older are typically administered a general anesthetic, and discomfort may be felt for up to 10 days. In older children and adults, a general anesthetic and stitches are sometimes required.

Tongue Tie Laser Treatments in the GTA Region of Ontario

Gep TOTs Dental Group at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry offers a team of specialists skilled at providing treatment for tongue tie and lip tie in the region of Ontario’s Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Contact us today at (647) 492-7059 for relief from the symptoms of tongue-tie and lip-tie.

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