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Can Tongue Tie Cause Sleep Apnea?

May 29, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drmogell @ 7:54 pm
Sticking tongue out to illustrate freedom from tongue tie

Tongue tie is a condition wherein the lingual frenulum (the piece of tissue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too thick or short. It thereby restricts the tongue’s range of motion. Tongue tie is known for its ability to cause breastfeeding difficulties and speed impediments in children, but did you know that it can also lead to sleep apnea in Boca Raton? Let’s discuss how that is so and what treatments are available.

Tongue Tie and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Tongue tie is heavily correlated with multiple issues that can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, including:

  • Habitual mouth breathing. Long-term mouth breathing can cause micro trauma to the back of the throat, including the tonsils. The tonsils may become enlarged and partially block the airway during sleep.
  • A high or arched palate. During a child’s physical development, the tongue should normally rest in a “upper” position, contacting the palate. Tongue tie causes the tongue to adopt a lower resting position. This interferes with the palatal development and can cause it to be abnormally high or arched, which leaves less room for the nasal passageways. It can also contribute to disproportionate growth of the lower jaw. All of these factors increase chances that the airway will be smaller than it should be.

Do You Have a Tongue Tie?

If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, it is possible that tongue tie is the primary culprit behind your condition. Additional signs that you have this physiological abnormality include:

  • Difficulty speaking after even a small amount of alcohol
  • Frequent dental problems
  • An aversion to certain textures of food
  • An inability to widely open your mouth

Addressing Tongue Tie

Under ideal circumstances, tongue tie is diagnosed early in a child’s life. They can undergo a frenectomy, which is a simple and fast surgery to loosen the lingual frenulum. Sadly, though, tongue tie is not always caught in a timely manner, and it can cause multiple problems, including sleep apnea, throughout the individual’s life.

If you suspect you have tongue tie, you should visit your dentist in Boca Raton. You may be a candidate for a frenectomy. However, a frenectomy is unlikely to automatically cure your OSA. You may need myofunctional therapy to train your tongue to rest in the proper place. Your dentist might also recommend that you begin sleep apnea therapy to help you breathe easier at night while you are considering other treatments to help you recover as fully as possible from the effects of tongue tie.

Tongue tie is a serious problem that can rob you of sleep! Fortunately, treatments are available to address this condition and help you get the rest you deserve.

About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Mogell is a general dentist and sleep apnea expert in Boca Raton. He has helped countless patients to rest better at night with oral appliance therapy. If you suspect you have tongue tie or obstructive sleep apnea, he would be happy to evaluate your condition and recommend your next steps. To learn more about how he can help you, contact our office at 561-394-9000. 

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