First, take this test: Right now at rest, is your tongue suctioned to the roof of your mouth? It should be. If it is suctioned to the roof, do you feel teeth? You shouldn’t. Are your lips closed? They should be. Proper oral rest position is your tongue suctioned to the roof of your mouth with the tip above your teeth and lips closed. If you are not doing this, you yourself may have a tongue tie.
Does your child have any of these symptoms?
- Speech errors (has been in speech therapy for more than 6 months with little progress)
- Speech lisp
- Tongue thrust swallow
- Sleep disturbances
- Bed wetting
- Picky Eating
- Bad posture
- Needing orthodontics
- Mouth breather
- Does it run in your family?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above, your child may have a tongue tie. When your tongue is tied it is considered a “tethered oral tissue” or TOT. This is a midline disorder that happens in utero during the first 12 weeks. If you as a parent have a tongue tie, there is about a 70% chance your child does too.
When your tongue is tied it has limited range of motion and is unable to reach proper oral rest position with your tongue suctioned to the roof of your mouth with the tongue tip resting above your teeth. When your tongue is resting in the correct position your upper palate and teeth should develop normally. Your tongue acts as a natural palate expander to widen your upper palate. However, when it is tethered to the lower jaw your palate becomes high and narrow. Take a look in the mirror and look at your own upper palate. Does it look wide and shallow? (Like the picture of the mold below) Or does it look narrow and high?
High and narrow palate
When you have a high and narrow palate it can push into the space of your nasal cavity to affect your airway. It can cause you to become a mouth breather. When you don’t have good nasal breathing, you don’t have good breathing. It can affect the way you sleep, attention, anxiety, etc. Tongue ties have really harsh long term effects on our entire mind and body.
Should you seek an orofacial myofunctional therapist?
In my professional opinion, YES you should seek an orofacial myofunctional therapist and surgical intervention from a highly recommended tongue tie specialized provider. Not all dentists and ENTs have specific training in this area. Orofacial myofunctional therapy is going to be able to help the tongue before and after the surgery with balancing the entire oral cavity for effective speech, swallowing, and rest position.
For speech therapy, if your child has been in speech therapy for over 6 months, there is a high possibility it is related to a tongue tie. Your child will make very slow or no progress. If they cannot get their tongue in the right place to make the correct sounds, they will compensate by sliding their jaws, using their cheeks, and other compensations that will take a toll on their bodies.
It is also good to know, it is not always a tongue tie that causes these above symptoms. Other issues that can cause low tongue resting positions and high narrow palates include: enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, thumb/digit sucking, prolonged pacifier use, prolonged bottle use, eating too much processed food, allergies, and more. This is why it is good to see an orofacial myofunctional therapist (which we have here at Bayside!) to do a full evaluation and to help you find the root of the problem. By getting to the root of the problem we are hoping to save you time and money for years of speech therapy, and also save your child from the long term negative impacts a low tongue resting position can cause.
I can testify as an adult who just discovered I myself had a tongue tie. I got it released when I was 38. I have terrible posture, TMJ, headaches, neck pain, and I had 12 years of speech therapy as a child. I wish my mom would have known as a baby/child so I didn’t have to endure so much time of my life in speech therapy and my parents would have saved so much money. I wouldn’t be in so much neck pain and probably wouldn’t have needed braces twice! I am getting better with body work and orofacial myofunctional therapy, but it would have been a lot easier if this was caught before the age of 5.