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  • Holly Pantano

I Had my Tongue Tie Released as an Adult, and Here is How it Went

So what exactly is a tongue tie? Typically, the lingual frenulum (a short, thick band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) separates before birth. With a tongue tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached. Depending on how thick and short this band of tissue is, can affect tongue range of motion. If tongue range of motion is limited, this can affect speaking, chewing, and swallowing.


As I continued on my journey through sleep apnea treatment, I started seeing a Speech Pathologist for Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (ironically a mouthful to say). I was referred by my sleep specialist when I experienced increased TMJ symptoms from using my oral appliance at night. When I walked in for my first appointment, I had no idea what Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy was or how it would help me.


They performed an entire evaluation of my mouth. How I spoke, chewed, breathed, how my tongue moved around in my mouth, my jaw movement patterns, and my posture. They asked general questions about my health and lifestyle. I was asked if I was breastfed as a baby, since often tongue ties are found during breastfeeding (I was not). They asked if there were any foods I didn't like, and why. I have never liked steak, thinking I was just a picky eater, when I answered the "why" it dawned on me- I hated the chewing and swallowing part of steak, not the taste! I also struggled with eating sushi, soup, and noodles, even though I loved the taste, I had difficulty swallowing. They asked about headaches and migraines, neck and shoulder tightness, TMJ pain tightness and clicking, sleep problems, teeth grinding and clenching, snoring, brain fog- all of which I've experienced for years! We went through several appointments where we focused on tongue range of motion, chewing, tongue resting position in the mouth, nasal breathing and deep breathing, and soft tissue massage. After a few weeks, I was then referred to a dentist who specializes in laser tongue tie release (also known as Frenectomy).


My first appointment was an evaluation similar to what I experienced with the Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist, but was more focused on visualizing the frenulum (photos below). What is pictured below is termed a posterior tongue tie. Posterior tongue ties can often be hidden because they are located further back where the floor of the mouth meets the tongue, making it difficult to see.















My next appointment was the actual release of the tie. The release from start to finish took about 1 hour. They applied topical numbing gel, and some local anesthesia, then got to work. The laser portion took maybe 10 minutes, and I didn't really feel anything. The only thing I noticed was cold air on my teeth coming from the machine. Immediately following, they had me move my tongue all around, and my range of motion was significantly improved already. The doctor shared wound care and exercises to do daily, and recommended I go eat an ice cream cone immediately to work out the new tongue range of motion (such a hard recovery 😉).


Sitting in the car immediately afterwards, I noticed my shoulders had never felt so relaxed in my life. I moved my head over each shoulder and couldn't believe how far I could go! The following weeks and months I began to notice little changes, such as easier eating, reduced acid reflux, better nasal breathing capability, less congested sinuses, feeling more relaxed in my body, and less headaches.


This is a small piece of my sleep apnea journey as I continue to open my airway and improve my health holistically. Tongue tie is a condition that can cause a variety of problems, and can be overlooked. If you think you or your child may have tongue tie, it is important to see a qualified professional for diagnosis and treatment.

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