A tongue tie is a condition that hinders the movement of the tongue. This happens when the lingual frenulum, the tissue that joins your tongue to the floor of your mouth, is too short, robust or rigid. You can see if this condition affects you by taking a look in a mirror and sticking out your tongue. Individuals with this issue may have trouble extending their tongue beyond their lips, moving their tongue from one side to another, or speaking clearly. They also often endure issues smooching.
Fortunately, people suffering from tongue-tie have several treatment options. Frequently, a frenotomy is conducted, cutting the lingual frenulum to loosen it and permit more flexibility. Apart from this, speech therapy and exercises aimed at reinforcing and advancing tongue movement can be helpful too. With appropriate treatment, those with tongue-tie will experience better verbal clarity and increased range of motion in their tongues, as well as an improved lifestyle.
Not Just Kids
While tongue ties are most frequently seen in kids, adults do experience them.
In fact, tongue ties are a surprisingly frequent issue, seen in as many as one out of five individuals, according to the Journal of American Dentistry. While tongue ties can develop at any age, they are more common in children, and sometimes they go undiagnosed until adulthood. This may occur because the common signs of tongue-tie – which include difficulty speaking, chewing and swallowing – go undetected or untreated in childhood.
Other signs of tongue-tie may include:
- Inability to protrude the tongue beyond the lips
- Tongue mobility difficulty when moving from side to side
- Difficulties with speech, like a lisp or slurred words, often continuing into adulthood
- Trouble consuming certain foods, like tough meats or taffy, or licking an ice cream cone
- A heart-shaped tongue when sticking the tongue out
- A gap between the teeth when the mouth is closed
Boys/men are more likely to have tongue ties than girls/women.
Other Side Effects
When the tongue can’t move food particles out of the mouth properly because of the restriction of a tongue tie, tooth decay is more likely.
Sleep apnea, a sleep breathing disorder that leads to pauses in breathing and serious health consequences, is more common in patients with tongue-tie, according to an article in ScienceDirect.
Kissing with a tongue tie can also be challenging – and even painful. However, regular myofunctional therapy exercises can help improve range of motion and make kissing more enjoyable.
Myofunctional Therapy and Tongue-Ties
Myofunctional therapy is a physical therapy modality that focuses on improving the strength, mobility, coordination and range of motion of the tongue through targeted exercises. This can be especially beneficial to those with tongue-tie, as these patients can gain greater comfort during kissing due to the improved flexibility and control of their tongue.
At the end of the day, even though tongue-tie can make it challenging to kiss, people with this condition can find joy in smooching through myofunctional therapy and various exercises. If you have a tongue tie or think you do, talk to us about pursuing myofunctional therapy and other treatment options.
Tongue ties are typically dealt with through a process referred to as frenotomy, which involves trimming the lingual frenulum to give more range of movement. This procedure is usually done in a doctor’s office or clinic and may be performed under local anesthesia with minimal pain. After the procedure, patients may need to do exercises to help augment their tongue and expand mobility. Speech therapy could also be proposed to address any language problems that have emerged due to the tongue tie.
Now that you know how to take care of your tongue tie, it’s time to prepare for the perfect kiss. Here’s a guide on how to do so:
The Perfect Kiss
Sweet Breath. Once you’ve solved your tongue tie, the next step is to ensure your breath is sweet. Brushing and flossing before kissing is highly recommended. You should also see the dentist two times annually to make sure that your gums, mouth and teeth are healthy. Pop sugar-free mints or gum before the big moment!
Calm Down. Prior to going in for a big kiss, take a few deep inhalations and soothe your body. This will subdue any anxiety that may be present in your tongue or jaw muscles. Note: An overstressed jaw can factor into the development of temporomandibular joint disorder.
Lip Service. Before you pucker up, make sure your lips are in tip-top shape. To do so, apply a layer of lip balm and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Above all, enjoy showing your partner some love!