What is a Tongue & Lip Tie?
Also known as a TOT(s) or Tethered Oral Tissue.
The subject of tongue-ties used to be something that wasn’t discussed much but I’m currently getting contacted pretty much daily by patients who either have kids who are tongue-tied, or who are dealing with the health effects of a tongue-tie themselves.
A lip-tie is also known as a restricted lingual frenum or a tethered oral tissue (TOT). The frenum is the line or band of tissue under the lips - we all have one. It connects the lips to the tissues surrounding the teeth, In some people however, the frenum is too tight or too short, and it can actually restrict the movement of the lip, as well as prevent proper breast feeding, increase risks for mouth breathing, prevent teeth from erupting properly and cause a lot of recession to the teeth around it.
A tongue-tie is also known as a restricted lingual frenum or a tethered oral tissue (TOT). The frenum is the line or band of tissue under the tongue - we all have one. It connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In some people however, the frenum is too tight or too short, and it can actually restrict the movement of the tongue, as well as prevent it from resting in the correct place. Lips can be tied as well.
Why Does It Matter?
Your tongue should fill up the entire roof of your mouth. When it does, it provides an internal support structure for the upper jaw. If your tongue is in the right place, your teeth will grow in straighter and your face will develop properly. A tongue-tie keeps your tongue in the bottom of your mouth. People who are tongue-tied often mouth breathe, so they experience a variety of myofunctional problems and symptoms. Chronic jaw pain, facial pain, headaches, and clenching and grinding, along with dental and orthodonticissues are common in people with tongue-ties. Studies show that children who are tonguetied are more likely to develop sleep apnea and airway issues.
It's critical to do myofunctional therapy exercises before the procedure for a successful outcome! Your myofunctional therapist will prescribe a series of exercises to help strengthen and prepare the muscles of the tongue for the new range of motion they'll experience post-surgery.
The mouth is very good at healing after a surgery, which is why caring for the wound is an integral part of the process. If the wound is not managed properly, it's possible that the the tongue will reattach back the way it was before the frenectomy.
The tongue and oral muscles will need to be retrained and strengthened after the frenum is released. Think of it just like any other surgery where rehabilitation is required. The muscles in tongue have never learned to move or rest properly, so in this case, myofunctional therapy is just like physical therapy, only for the mouth.
A Team Approach
Treating TOTS requires a team, and that team has to work closely together in order to coordinate the myofunctional therapy exercises with the tongue-tie release procedure.
The good news is that more and more of the doctors performing the procedure are insisting that their patients work with a myofunctional therapist before they’ll go ahead and do the release.
Working With A Myofunctional Therapist
If you’re dealing with tongue-ties in your family, you don’t need to work through the entire process on your own.
A good myofunctional therapist will help you to find the right doctor to perform the tongue-tie release procedure, show you the exercises to do before and after the procedure to stop the tongue-tie from reattaching, and take you through a comprehensive program to retrain your oral and facial muscles for a lifetime of good health. Most importantly, they’ll help you make the team approach reality in your treatment. Done right, the results of this procedure can be life changing.