The trouble with “tongue tie” … what it is, the long-term complications, and what we do to resolve it

Many advanced procedures are available at Dental Care of Riverside. Due to the considerable expertise of our dentist, Dr. Archana Sheth, we rarely have to refer our valued patients out to other providers in southwestern California. Dr. Sheth’s expertise includes the diagnosis and treatment of ankyloglossia. This condition is more commonly known as “tongue tie.” 

By treating pediatric patients with a “lingual frenectomy” procedure, we help them avoid many developmental complications associated with a tight or overly short “lingual frenulum.” It has also been quite rewarding to resolve untreated tongue ties in adults. Adult patients may have developed compensatory behaviors and other conditions that are, unbeknownst to them, due to a restrictive lingual frenulum that ties the tongue to the floor of the mouth. 

Now, there are many symptoms and effects that are shared by both pediatric and adult patients with ankyloglossia. The tongue is an essential structure critical to the development of the mouth and face. Partly, patients may experience or develop the following: 

  • Sleep-disordered breathing 
  • Damaging adaptations, such as “tongue thrusting” 
  • Challenges to properly cleaning the mouth with a tongue tie 
  • Accordingly, increased risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease
  • Painful or dysfunctional swallowing 
  • TMJ disorders and associated symptoms (chronic migraines, radiating facial pain)
  • Uneven spacing between teeth and jaw misalignment 
  • Speech impediments

Additionally, tongue ties in infants can interfere with proper nutrition as it presents challenges to breastfeeding and normal “latching.” Fortunately, Dr. Sheth has the training and tools to quickly and predictably treat tongue tie. So, we can prevent many problems that can affect health and quality of life well into adulthood. Or, we can get our more “experienced” patients back on the right track by resolving a long undiagnosed tongue tie. While some tongue ties can resolve on their own, that is not always the case. 

The idea behind a frenectomy procedure is to simply release the restricted tissue. In releasing the lingual frenulum, the tongue can move freely. A healthy oral posture supports healthy function; for instance, formerly restricted tissues no longer contribute to the upper airway collapse that leads to SDBs like sleep apnea. The specific techniques used to correct your tongue tie depend on factors not limited to the thickness of the fibrous tissues. Generally, the procedure of releasing the tongue tie is well-tolerated and fast and may be completed with special instruments or laser therapies.

We are happy to provide more details into options for you or your child during a visit. Call Dental Care of Riverside at (951) 666-8998 to book an appointment. Our office is conveniently located near the University of California Riverside.