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The Lingual Frenulum: Anatomy and Function in Tongue Tie

The lingual frenulum, commonly called the web, is a piece of skin beneath the tongue, which connects the organ to the floor of the mouth. It plays a crucial role in the movement and function of the tongue. The term ‘tongue tie’ is used when an individual’s lingual frenulum is overly tight, impeding the movement of the tongue. This article explores the anatomy and function of the lingual frenulum in tongue tie.

Anatomy of The Lingual Frenulum

The lingual frenulum is the band of connective tissue that connects the tongue to the base of the mouth. The frenulum itself is made up of two layers: the epithelium layer, made up of squamous cells, and the submucosa layer, which contains fibroblasts and collagen bundles. The frenulum extends just underneath the tongue and attaches to the mucous membrane of the floor of the mouth.

The Function of The Lingual Frenulum

The lingual frenulum serves an important function in the movement and control of the tongue. When the mouth is closed, the tongue is firmly attached to the floor of the mouth by the frenulum. This attachment prevents the tongue from protruding too far from the mouth and maintains the correct position of the muscles in the jaw. The frenulum also assists in speech sound production by keeping the tongue position steady and controlling the movement of the tongue during speech.

Tongue Tie and Lingual Frenulum: What is the Connection?

Tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, describes an individual with an overly tight or short lingual frenulum that restricts the movement of the tongue. This condition can cause a variety of problems, from difficulty with breastfeeding and speech development to problems with eating and bite issues. In some cases, it can also lead to a higher risk of damaging the frenulum during everyday activities like talking or eating.

Tongue tie can be diagnosed based on a few key signs and symptoms. The tongue may appear heart-shaped when extended, have difficulty sticking out past the teeth, and demonstrate limited side-to-side, up-and-down, and rotating movement. A healthcare professional or an oral health care specialist can diagnose tongue tie and suggest possible interventions.

Treatments for Tongue Tie

Treatments for tongue tie typically involve surgical procedures to release the lingual frenulum. This procedure, known as a frenotomy, can be carried out under local anaesthesia by a trained healthcare professional. A frenotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves snipping or cutting the lingual frenulum in order to allow the tongue greater range of motion. The procedure is typically done in both children and adults, although some healthcare professionals may recommend alternative treatments, such as rehabilitation strategies, first.

Conclusion

The lingual frenulum is an important piece of skin beneath the tongue that serves as a connective tissue band. It plays a key role in the movement, positioning, and speech sound production of the tongue. When the lingual frenulum is overly tight, it can result in a condition known as tongue tie, which can cause a range of problems for the individual. Fortunately, tongue tie can be diagnosed and treated using minimally invasive procedures.

In conclusion, the anatomy and function of the lingual frenulum are crucial in understanding the condition of tongue tie. As such, anyone experiencing problems with their tongue movement or positioning should seek medical advice in order to accurately diagnose and treat the condition.