Tongue Tie For Adults & Older Children
What is a tongue tie?
The tissue under the tongue that attaches the floor of the mouth to the tongue is called the lingual frenum. This is normal anatomy if it has enough length and elasticity and sits further back in the mouth. A tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is when a short, tethered lingual frenum prevents movement and proper function of the tongue.
Tethered (restricted) oral tissues can impact the function of the face and oral cavity muscles. This can be likened to having an elastic exercise band tied around a muscle. These restrictive membranes can limit the ease of mobility of the tongue and the muscles that make up the mouth. This can have a cascading effect on many aspects of our health and well-being, including airways and sleep. This is an area many health practitioners are starting to learn more about and the evidence for the rationale for treatment is mounting.
Lip and tongue tie release can be the ideal solution for you if you have:
A lip tie causing space in the upper front teeth (This is often prescribed by your treating orthodontist)
Incorrect swallowing pattern such as tongue thrust diagnosed by a speech pathologist
Speech issues or prolonged speech therapy with little improvement
Mumbling or unclear speech when tired
Inability to move the tongue around the mouth to clean food debris
Ongoing headaches and jaw pain, grinding and snoring, postural issues- evidence for the link between these issues and tethered oral tissues is emerging.
Tongue Tie Release – Treatment
At Adelaide Cosmetic Dentistry we recognize the surgical correction of a lip or tongue tie needs to be accompanied by the rehabilitation of the affected muscles. A tongue that has had a limited movement for years lacks tone and flexibility. Special exercises aimed to rehabilitate the tongue are prescribed to strengthen, lengthen and tone this very important muscle. These exercises are called Myofunctional therapy, and we require them to be performed before and after a tongue-tie release. Our years of clinical experience have shown that the result of surgery is dramatically improved in people who have had Myofunctional exercises in conjunction with surgical release of the tethered frenum.
Thorough consultation about current symptoms and assessment to determine if any intervention is required. A tried and tested method is used to see if the tongue is tethered and to what degree.
Laser frenectomy under appropriate anesthesia. Measurements are repeated to record the improvements in mobility of tongue
A tongue tie limiting mobility of your tongue
Review- our experience indicates that majority of the cases we treat report improvements in some or all the aspects that brought them to us in the first place. These reports are
Assessment of the tongue, lip and breathing posture by myofunctional therapist and prescription of specific exercises suited to your needs.
Recovery – though this is a minor surgical procedure we still ask you to allow some recovery time. Exercises are resumes after a period of rest and mild pain killers may be needed.
A tongue tie limiting mobility of your tongue
You are thoroughly assessed to see if the frenum in question is actually restricting mobility. It is often helpful to have had an assessment done by another practitioner such as your GP, chiropractor, or physiotherapist. A myofuctional therapist’s involvement is often needed.
The method of anesthesia used is often determined by the age of the patient. In adults, a small local anesthetic is sufficient to keep you comfortable during the procedure. In young children, happy gas may be used.
We use a Waterlase laser to release restricted tissues and depending on the age of the patient we may get you to perform various movements of the tongue as we carry out the surgery to ensure a thorough and sufficient release is obtained and the tongue has gained a full range of motion.
Suturing is often used in adult patients to minimise the need for post-operative stretches and minimise scar tissue formation. Suturing may not be possible in young children and infants. Luckily laser seals the tissues as it cuts minimising the risks of bleeding and infection.
The results of laser frenectomies are often felt immediately and reported by adult patients as a dramatic sense of freedom of movement. They often feel their tongue sitting against the roof of the mouth for the first time. This position is the correct posture of the tongue. Needless to say, results vary between individuals.