Frenuloplasty provides relief from tongue tie symptoms in older kids and adults in Turlock, CA
A tongue-tie is a congenital issue that affects 4-11% of babies in the world. While in some cases, a parent may notice early on that their baby has problems with breastfeeding or eating and swallowing, in other cases the condition may go unnoticed for many years and can manifest itself in older kids and adults with symptoms such as speech problems, sleep disorders, and other chronic problems. At the dental practice of Dr. Ramsin Davoud in Turlock, CA, you or your child can receive a thorough evaluation to determine whether you have a tongue-tie. If so, a frenuloplasty can provide relief from the symptoms you or your child is experiencing so you can regain your quality of life.
Tongue ties explained
The tongue plays many critical roles in your daily life and overall health. In addition to the function that most people associate with the tongue—tasting all the delicious flavors that foods have to offer—it has a number of other important roles, including the formation of speech sounds, positioning food in the mouth for proper chewing and swallowing, cleaning debris off your teeth after eating, and even kissing and playing certain types of instruments. If you have a tongue-tie, however, all of these movements that you likely don’t ever even think about can present challenges. Something as simple as sticking your tongue out can prove impossible for someone with a tongue tie.
A tongue-tie, formally called an ankyloglossia, happens when a small piece of tissue called the frenulum that adjoins your tongue to the bottom of your mouth is not long enough, too thick, too tight, or connected in the wrong location on your tongue. Normally, the frenulum of the tongue is thin and attached at about the midway point on the tongue. With a tongue tie, the normal movements of the tongue are restricted and can present a variety of health and daily living challenges.
Symptoms you or your child may have a tongue-tie include:
- Problems with articulating certain speech sounds and words correctly
- Inability to properly chew and swallow certain types of foods
- Strong gag reflex
- Digestive problems
- Intense fatigue or lack of energy
- Poor quality sleep, with frequent waking or inability to get deep sleep
- Persistent snoring
- Chronic back or neck pain
- Regularly breathing through the mouth instead of the nose
- Irritability or mood disorders
- Issues with attention or hyperactivity
- Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ
- Tooth grinding and clenching
Over the long term, these issues, such as a chronic sleep deficit or grinding and clenching of your teeth, can cause even bigger problems for not only your dental health but also your overall health. For example, a lack of sufficient high-quality sleep has been linked to an increased risk of several major health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic disorders, and depression. Additionally, the tongue is the endpoint of your body’s deep front line fascia, so issues with your tongue’s movement can have a ripple effect on the rest of your body, causing tension and pain.
That’s why it is so important for you to seek a professional diagnosis and treatment if you suspect that you or your child are suffering from symptoms related to a tongue tie. Some simple tests you can do to determine whether you may have one are:
- Swiping a finger under your tongue – if it catches on tissue, you may have a tongue tie
- There should be no visible flap of skin under the tongue
- You should be able to use your tongue to wipe the outer sides of all of your back teeth, as well as the spots where your gums connect to your cheeks
- When you open your mouth fully, you should be able to move the tip of your tongue to touch behind your front upper teeth
- You should be able to stick your tongue out and then lift up the tip independently from the rest of your tongue
Dentist Dr. Ramsin Davoud is highly trained and skilled at diagnosing tongue ties in people of all ages, from infants to adults. Some tongue-ties are easily visualized just with the eyes, but others require a physical examination to be diagnosed.
Tongue tie treatment in older kids and adults
Because the frenulum causing a tongue tie becomes larger and thicker as you get older, a procedure called frenuloplasty surgery is typically required to treat tongue ties in older patients.
The aim of tongue tie surgery for adults and older kids is to release the tongue from the tissue that is restricting its movement. Dr. Davoud uses the approach to releasing adult and older childrens’ tongue ties, called a “functional frenuloplasty,” that was developed by Dr. Soroush Zaghi. Anesthesia or painkillers are administered before the surgery begins so that it is comfortable and pain-free for you or your child. A small amount of local anesthetic is injected into the treatment area, and then the tongue is pulled back to expose the tongue tie. Then, sterile scissors are used to snip the tongue-tie, and sutures are placed to promote healing by primary intention, which reduces long-term scarring. Scissors are used instead of lasers in older children and adults because these tongue ties are often deeper into the muscle, and scissors allow for better and more precise visualization, cut, and control of the surgical area.
Because tissues were cut, it is important to expect that you or your child will experience some pain in the days following the procedure. Over-the-counter painkillers can help, and Dr. Davoud will also recommend other treatments you can do at home to aid the healing process, such as warm salt water rinses or using antibacterial mouthwashes. The wound typically heals within one to two weeks.
Exercises for optimal results
The surgery to release the tongue-tie is just one component of a successful outcome. You will also need to do exercises to “train” your mouth at home to ensure that you get optimal results. Moving your tongue in all directions and sticking your tongue out for several minutes, several times a day will help expedite the healing process and increase the movement of your tongue. The exercises can also help prevent scar tissue from forming.
Dr. Davoud may also recommend myofunctional facial therapy depending on your specific condition and needs. This is a special type of physiotherapy that is used to improve the appearance and function of your face and mouth. It can help you develop the proper breathing patterns, train your tongue where to rest in your mouth, help you learn how to use it properly while eating, and form other good oral habits. You have likely heard of “muscle memory”—your tongue is a muscle, and that is what we are trying to achieve with these types of exercises!
Some patients who have struggled with articulating certain speech sounds or who are unable to say certain words properly after the procedure may also need to do speech exercises at home or see a speech pathologist. With training, you or your child will be able to learn how to say these sounds correctly over time; sometimes, just repeatedly saying the sounds at home that you are struggling with can resolve simple speech issues.
Tongue tie surgery before and after
A frenuloplasty tongue surgery can have a dramatic impact on a patient’s life, with huge differences in their quality of life seen after treatment. Before a tongue-tie release, in addition to the negative symptoms discussed above, many patients even have visible asymmetries in their bodies, such as one shoulder being higher than the other, due to the tension caused by the tongue tie’s impact on their body’s fascia.
After the treatment is complete, there will typically be a diamond-shaped wound in the mouth where the tongue tie was released. As it begins to heal, it will likely turn a yellow/greenish color. Over time, with proper care and mobility exercises as discussed above, patients are able to move their tongue freely and no longer suffer from the many unpleasant effects of the tongue tie. It is important to note that a tongue tie can grow back to a certain extent, particularly in younger patients. When this happens, re-treatment may or may not be needed depending on how much it has regrown.
Tongue tie surgery cost
The cost of a frenuloplasty varies depending on each patient’s specific needs. After a consultation and thorough examination prior to your treatment, we can provide a close estimate of the cost of your treatment. The friendly staff at Dr. Davoud’s office will ensure that you are aware of all costs and will work with you to determine the best payment plan for your treatment.
Learn more about whether a frenuloplasty is right for you or your child
As a holistic dentist, Dr. Ramsin Davoud and his team of professionals are dedicated to not just fixing individual issues in your mouth, but improving your overall health and quality of life with every treatment. If you or your child are suffering from the effects of a tongue tie or you would like to be evaluated to see if you have one, we encourage you to call the office in Turlock, CA at (209) 666-8867
to schedule a consultation.