It is no secret that the front, back and middle of our tongues are supposed to rest at the roof of our mouth while its tip rests right behind our front teeth. However, sometimes there is a tight fascia beneath the tongue which restricts its position and is known as a tongue tie.
From a series of exercises to strengthen the tongue or myofunctional therapy promoted by Hollywood celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian to tongue-ties in children and adult, experts reveal the relation between the tongue and irregular sleep or incorrect posture in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times.
Dr. Ankita Shah, Founder of Dentician and The Tongue Tie & Sleep Institute told HT Lifestyle Digital that there is scarce awareness about tongue ties, incorrectly positioned jaws and teeth that can obstruct our airway and hamper our sleep which then create issues with breastfeeding, speech, eating habits, crooked teeth, posture, aches, anxiety and quality of life. According to her, myofunctional therapy “is one of the fun ways of exercise to treat these problems.”
She reveals, “In the US, Myofunctional Therapy is widely recognised and many Hollywood celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian, John Legend and Chrissy Teigen and DJ Khaled have already opted for myofunctional therapy (Facial Therapy/Face Yoga) for their and their family’s well-being.”
But what really is tongue tie?
Dr Zinal Unadkat, Senior Pediatrician and IBCLC Lactation Consultant explains, “Tongue tie is a complex diagnosis and when it comes to assessment treatment and recovery we all need to come together geographically and professionally. Being a pediatrician, I never realized my daughter has tongue tie till she reached the age of 18. Even though she had speech issues, all my colleagues and doctors told me that she would get better with time. I never realised that frenulum is a fascia which can cause issues in children like neck tightness, irregular head shape, fussy and picky eating in toddlers, mouthbreathing, snoring and recurrent tonsils and adenoids infection, change of posture and muscle tightness.”
She added, “The implications of having a tongue tie can impact the childhood and these problems continue into adulthood. Early detection is key.”
Dr Manisha Gogri, Senior IBCLC lactation consultant backs this by saying, “Tongue posture plays an important role right from infancy to adulthood. Tongue mobility is very important for breastmilk transfer. The tongue should not only protrude in and out but also move up and down in full range so that the baby can suckle well at the breast.”
She added, “Restricted tongue mobility due to a Tongue Tie is one of the most common causes of a painful latch and inadequate breastmilk transfer. It often goes undiagnosed except when the tongue tie is very obviously visible. Only a trained professional with a thorough oral examination is able to detect the problem and help the mother and baby in specific ways so that Breastfeeding can be continued smoothly. A team approach that involves the baby’s doctors, a lactation consultant, a physical or craniosacral therapist, a dental or ENT or Pediatric surgeon (who can release the tie if necessary) is often the best way to deal with this issue.”
What’s the relation between postures and tongues in adults and its symptoms?
As per Dr Sudarshan Singh, Senior Physiotherapist, “Tongue tie is not just about some oral problems in early age. If not dealt at the right time, in adults this tightened myofasica originating from the tongue can lead to lot of postural problems.”
Dr Ankita Shah too asserts the importance for all professionals to diagnose tongue ties and to pay attention to tongue posture for an overall well-being from infancy to adulthood. She highlighted, “Some of the most common ways in which your body compensates if the fascia coat is too tight are: forward neck posture, slouching and rolled shoulders, teeth grinding and clenching, jaw pain, bow/duck feet, flat feet, walking on the tip or heels of the foot, back and hip misalignment and neck chest tightness.”
Zia Nath, Senior Craniosacral Therapist suggests, “A new born uses many cranial nerves, bones, joints and muscles to establish a cohesive suck, swallow, breathe reflex and the tongue is at the heart of it. It’s imperative to consider the whole body of the infant while evaluating and treating tongue ties and lips ties.”
She proposed, “Craniosacral therapy is gentle hands-on, non-invasive support that effectively releases cranial and spine restrictions as well as stabilises torticolis (neck restrictions) and breathing restrictions that provides the infant with maximum benefits of the tongue tie release. Treating tongue and lip ties help babies to sustain breastfeeding which itself has an endless list of benefits for babies and we want to support the restoration of the system as nature designed it to be.”