February 13, 2019
Do you get frequent cavities? Do you have sleep apnea or chronic jaw pain? Although these problems have many potential causes, believe it or not, they could be caused by your tongue. If you have a tongue tie and didn’t get it resolved when you were a baby, you could be paying the consequences for it now. What is a tongue tie? How could such a little thing have such a huge impact? Answer all your questions about a tongue tie in Bullard here.
What is a tongue tie?
A tongue tie is a malformation underneath the tongue where a piece of skin connecting it to the floor of the mouth restricts movement. In babies, a tongue tie can cause problems with feeding early on, leading to irritability, poor nutrition, and delayed growth. Tongue tie cases that interfere with a baby’s ability to feed are easier to spot and resolve quickly. However, because most medical professionals do not check for tongue ties and some babies can feed just fine even with a tongue tie, some cases slip through the cracks.
What symptoms or problems can a tongue tie cause?
Although tongue ties are mostly diagnosed in babies who struggle to nurse, if a tongue tie isn’t properly handled early on, it can cause issues well into adulthood. These problems include the following:
- Poor saliva flow. If your tongue is restricted, saliva production can be reduced, which creates an ideal environment for cavities to form.
- TMJ dysfunction. The tongue contributes to how the teeth and jaw develop, and a tongue tie can cause the mouth and jaw to be smaller and more narrow, setting the stage for pain in the jaw joint, commonly called the TMJ.
- Sleep apnea. When the structures of the mouth are small, the airways too can be small and more easily obstructed, which is the most common kind of sleep apnea.
- Speech problems. We use our tongue to pronounce words clearly. Restriction in tongue movement can inhibit the ability to make many sounds.
How is a tongue tie treated?
After you and your dentist in Bullard have discussed your tongue tie, they will likely explain your potential treatment options. The connective tissue that is restricting tongue movement needs to be removed in a procedure called a frenectomy. In years past, a frenectomy would be performed with a scalpel and sutures, but advanced soft tissue lasers enable dentists to loosen a tongue tie with maximum efficiency and reduced discomfort. Minimal bleeding and no stitches mean that you can recover quickly from the procedure. For other effects of a tongue tie, you may need to see other specialists for treatment, such as an occupational or speech therapist.
Although the tongue is a small part of your mouth, it can influence your health in many ways and shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you notice potential signs of a tongue tie in your baby. The sooner it can be addressed, the less negative impact it can have on them and their development in the future. If you think you or your child may have an untreated tongue tie, contact your dentist in Bullard for a consultation.
About the Author
Dr. Tad Morgan has been practicing dentistry for about twenty years. He has over a thousand hours of continuing education, and he is one of only sixteen mentors in the world for Six Month Smiles. In his practice, he also offers frenectomy treatment, particularly for babies, using a soft tissue laser. To schedule an appointment with him, you can call (903) 825-1112 or click here.