Conventional wisdom dictates that tongue-tie will eventually correct itself. Baby Center estimates that, as the structure of the mouth changes, most tongue-ties go away during the first weeks of a baby’s life. But what about those that persist into childhood and adulthood?
Children that have an unusually short lingual frenulum face many challenges as they grow up (The frenulum isthe strip of skin that links the bottom of the mouth with the tongue). As the child grows into an adult, these challenges can significantly reduce their quality of life.
Poor Advice Surrounding Tongue-Ties
Before bottle-feeding and formula came into fashion, tongue-ties, physicians routinely snipped them moments after birth. Until recently many believed that tongue-ties are a mere fad, even actively discouraging tongue-tie release or surgery as an unnecessary procedure.
Today, a number of foremost medical experts and institutions are starting to acknowledge tongue-tie as a real medical condition. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, this condition can compromise oral health, speech development, and feeding.
Despite these findings, emerging facts about tongue-tie are largely obscured by poor advice. Here are some of the most common myths about this condition:
Children will always grow out of tongue-tie.
Some certainly do, but it can take weeks or months to resolve and for some, it does not happen at all. Furthermore, difficulties caused by tongue-tie manifest very early on. It can cause a lot of serious issues with breastfeeding such as difficulty latching, failure to thrive, as well as pain and reduced milk production for the mother.
Tongue-tie doesn’t interfere with development.
Because a tongue-tie tends to be small and hard to spot, a lot of people mistakenly assume that it’s no big deal. The truth is that restricted tongue movement can cause profound developmental deficits in children, such as:
- Early onset dental problems such as irritated and swollen gums and tooth decay
- Speech difficulties (slow speech, lisps, inability to pronounce particular sounds like “t” and rolling “r”)
- Choking and gagging on food or other eating issues such as aversion to certain textures
- Inability to do basic movements such as licking and extending tongue past the lips
- Slumped or forward posture
- Gapped or crooked teeth and jaw formation issues
- Back and neck pain
The emotional effects of tongue-tie can also be far-reaching. Eating and issues caused by this condition can lead to low self-esteem and social issues as the patient struggles to compensate. Patients also develop maladaptive habits that can be hard to break without professional intervention.
All tongue-ties are the same.
According to First Class Parenting, classification of tongue-ties is based on where the tongue-tie is located. It’s also a good indicator of severity. Tongue-tie is broken down into four categories:
Class I: Tie is located at the tip of the tongue
Class II: Tie is located near the middle of the tongue
Class III: Tie is located at the base of the tongue
Class IV: Tie is located underneath the mucous membrane; also known as Posterior Tongue Ties
Tongue-tie diagnosis can be done by a dentist trained in sleep disorders, pediatricians, surgeons, ENTs, and lactation specialists. WebMD explains that the process often requires physical examination of the tongue and detailed history of symptoms.
Negative Impact of Tongue-tie into Adulthood
Adults with tongue-tie face a broader set of symptoms and even potential diseases compared to their younger counterparts. Lifelong tongue-tie manifestation includes:
- Chronic dry lips
- Lack of energy, tiredness, brain fog,
- Waking up with fatigue
- Chronic shoulder, back, and neck pain
- TMJ and jaw pain
- Intense migraines
- Mouth breathing
- Teeth grinding or bruxism
- Depression and anxiety
- Sugar cravings
- Oral sensitivity
- Obstructive sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
- Digestive diseases
Adults with tongue-tie experience remarkable reduction in quality of life. While awareness about tongue-tie is steadily rising, it remains an undertreated condition.
Tongue-Tie Can Be Treated at Any Age
The symptoms of tongue-tie worsen with age. However, more and more specialists are being trained on tongue-tie release and management thanks to breakthroughs in tongue-tie research.
A well-trained professional will be able to make a comprehensive assessment of issues related to tongue-tie restriction. He or she will check posture, airway, sleep, speech, and other indicators beyond the appearance of the tongue. If you suspect that you or another person is suffering from tongue tie, it’s a good idea to schedule a consultation with a dentist familiar with sleep disorders.
Children and adult tongue-tie patients report positive results shortly after tongue-tie release. Recovery is usually fast and uncomplicated as well.
Tongue-tie myths are surely but steadily getting dispelled as new research enters the field. This is excellent news for affected individuals. While tongue-tie release surgery is typically quick and painless, there is now greater access to the procedure. As more people get educated about tongue-tie, less people will need to suffer through a condition that’s easily corrected and managed.