Most of the information I had learned about adult ankyloglossia (tongue tie), was presented to me at the 2013 IATP (international affiliation of tongue tie practitioners) summit. There I learned that everyone with tethered oral tissue (TOTS) can compensate for the tension caused by tongue tie to varying degrees. For some compensation fails in infancy presenting as difficulty breastfeeding. As people with TOTs age compensation breakdown can look like feeding and swallowing difficulties (from infants to geriatrics), speech impediments, sleep apnea, as well as the symptoms I was presenting with. I became curious about my own oral function and learned a few of the criteria for diagnosing adult ankyloglossia. Which, as with infants, includes an assessment of symptoms, structure and function.
I was very curious about the effects revision might have in my daily life. I had many of the classic symptoms of problems relating to tongue tie: migraines, TMD, chronic sinusitis, fatigue during speaking. My tongue function was limited; I could not perform a full sweep of the inside and outside of my teeth using my tongue (this is called oral toilet). I could not open my mouth to a normal degree with my tongue elevated. I could not roll my r’s when speaking french. The structure of my lingual frenum presented as a class 3 attachment. I could feel the tension where it attached to the floor of my mouth, like a tight thin piano wire, it pulled and pinned my tongue down. I had had treatment to expand my high arched palate as a child.
I lost my ability to compensate for my oral restrictions in 2007 when I was involved in a minor car accident. I began to experience clicking and pain in my jaw. If I ate an apple or had some popcorn, I paid for it with a migraine the next day. I tried various treatments (chiropractic, cranio sacral therapy, acupuncture, dental devices) with no relief. It was at that summit that I began to wonder if the problems with my jaw might have been cause by tongue tie, and my bodies inability to compensate for that any more.
I spent the next two years becoming evermore immersed in the world of TOTs. Curiosity about my tongue function kept creeping into my thoughts, as I explained tongue tie to many anxious parents who were also curious about their own tongue function. I even accompanied a friend’s brother to have his frenum released.
In late 2014 I decided to undergo frenotomy. A friend and colleague wanted to have hers released too, so we decided to go together. We prepared by having bodywork a few days before the procedure. I had my revision on Friday January 22, 2015. Unlike the babies who undergo the procedure, I was able to have local anesthetic. Immediately after the procedure I noticed how high I could elevate my tongue, and sweep it across all of my teeth. As the numbing wore off I experienced pain, like the burn you get when you drink coffee that is too hot. It was intense. All I wanted was ice cream, it felt so good on the revision site! I took ibuprofen that afternoon and the next evening, and had minimal pain.
The next morning I took another dose and prepared for a long day of teaching (and lots of speaking). The stretches, to keep the wound from healing shut, were really hard to do to myself. The big upside was that I no longer had fatigue and soreness after a long day of speaking. This was amazing!
I followed up with body work, and noticed that for the first time ever a big release under my tongue and in my hyoid bone. The clicking in my jaw was gone, as were the migraines. My nose drained fully and it no longer hurt when I used my neti pot. I hadn’t known that I had difficulty swallowing pills until after the revision, when it was suddenly easy and not uncomfortable.
These small changes have really impacted my quality of life. I love that I can read to my children at bedtime without pain in the muscles surrounding my throat. It’s nice to be able to chew gum, eat popcorn and apples, without suffering for it. I find singing very different too, I no longer tilt my head back when singing. My posture has changed too.
Sometimes I feel things tightening up again, pain and discomfort returns. When it does, I go for cranio sacral therapy, and things improve dramatically and these changes last for months. I am very happy to have had the revision done.