The condition known as being tongue-tied is caused when the frenulum (the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short and tight. As a result, the movement of the tongue is restricted. The surgery to correct this condition is called a frenectomy. Parents may be familiar with the condition and how it can lead to possible problems breastfeeding newborns along with potential speech problems down the road. But recent studies have also identified tongue-ties as a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The normal position of the tongue is to be placed high in the palate during oral functions like sucking, swallowing and chewing. However, when the tongue is restricted (or “tied”), these functions are also restricted and the tongue adopts a lowered posture, which can cause altered palate development, deficits in mid-face development, and disproportionate growth of the lower jaw. The combination of these events results in the development of a smaller airway, which is more prone to collapse during sleep. As a result, altered nasal breathing and disturbance occurs slowly over time, with progressive worsening into adulthood, subsequently increasing the chances of development of sleep apnea.
A frenectomy is simply the removal of a frenum in the mouth. A frenectomy is either performed inside the middle of upper lip, which is called labial frenectomy, or under the tongue, called lingual frenectomy. Frenectomy is a very common procedure that is performed mostly on infants as young as a few days old – but also on children and adults. A well-timed frenectomy can be a life-changing treatment that can also prevent snoring, TMJ disorders, headaches, migraines, postural distortions and even ADD and ADHD.
At NYC SleepWell, we offer laser frenectomy as an in-office procedure that is extraordinarily precise and quick, with no need for general anesthesia. Even for infants, there is minimal discomfort or swelling – and the laser treatment sterilizes the treatment area, reducing the chance of infection. In most cases, no sutures are required, providing for a faster recovery.
Being that frenectomies are most commonly performed on infants, the procedure begins with the swaddling of the baby and a topical anesthetic (such as lidocaine) being applied to the area. The surgeon will then use a precise laser to release the tightened or tethered tissue. The whole procedure takes less than 10 minutes. The infant may experience some slight swelling for a day or so following the treatment. At NYC SleepWell, we provide advice on how to care for the baby’s mouth and if any post-surgical care is needed to ensure that the frenulum does not reattach again.
Led by Dr. Ruben Cohen, a Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, our skilled team of sleep specialists, ENT surgeons, general and pediatric dentists and anesthesiologists have extensive experience in frenectomies — in addition to other in-office procedures and surgical treatments for a wide array of conditions including sleep apnea. For your added peace-of-mind, our facility is accredited by the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities (AAAASF), the Gold Standard in Accreditation. Our goal at NYC SleepWell, plain and simple, is to help you sleep well – and be healthy!