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  • Danielle Godley

Tongue Ties - Oh My!

Updated: Apr 26


Tongue tie
Tongue tie

Can a tongue tie affect development of the jaws and position of the teeth? Yes! The tongue is a crucial facial muscle that creates both orthodontic (tooth) forces as well as orthopedic (jaw) forces.



All About the Tongue

Muscles directly influence skeletal (bone) growth. The tongue and other facial muscles are responsible for establishing arches of the upper and lower jaws. The pressures these muscles exert at rest is most important. Resting contact of the tongue against the palate (roof of the mouth) is important for proper growth and development of the maxilla (upper jaw).


When movement of the tongue significantly restricted, the tongue often cannot be lifted upwards to rest in the palate. This can have an effect on growth of the jaws as well as arrangement of the teeth. The upper jaw may not grow wide enough, leading to a constricted arch and high, narrow palate.



Tongue Ties

When the underside of the tongue attaches to the floor of the moth abnormally (too short, thick, tight), this condition is known as ankyloglossia (AKA a tongue tie). It is also referred to as a restrictive lingual frenulum, and results in limited movement of the tongue. Tongue ties can range from mild to severe, and tend to be more common in males than females.



Risks

In significant cases, tongue tie can lead to:

  • Infants: difficulties with breastfeeding

  • Narrow upper jaw

  • Speech & eating difficulties

  • Elongated/high palate

  • Malocclusion (abnormal bite)

  • Potential narrowing of the airway

  • Altered breathing pattern

  • Sleep disordered breathing

  • Altered swallowing pattern


Treatment for Tongue Ties

Treatment for tongue ties may be provided through a lingual frenectomy (sometimes called frenulectomy). This is a surgical removal of the tethered tissue, and is commonly achieved via laser or incision.


Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) may be helpful before and after this procedure to help retrain muscles and establish post-operative success. OMT can help improve tongue strength, posture at rest, and position during swallowing.


Expansive orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics may help reverse some of the side effects from tongue ties. Rapid palatal expansion can widen the upper jaw while children are still growing, and has been shown to improve resting tongue posture.



Conclusion

The tongue is an important muscle that influences growth and development of the jaws. Tongue ties may negatively influence jaw development as well as present challenges in breastfeeding, swallowing patterns, and articulation. Intervention with tongue tie release, orthodontic treatments, and orofacial myofunctional therapy may be essential to offer both long-term stability and a good foundation of health.


 

Tongue ties are something we evaluate for at your initial consultation at Godley Family Orthodontics. To schedule your complimentary visit, call (317) 913-2828 or book online at: https://www.godleyfamilyortho.com/book-online





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