A Small Taste of My Own Medicine

It’s been a while since my last post. With all the holiday season activities it’s been quite busy. But the main reason I haven’t written is that I just underwent minor surgery. Not just any surgery, but something that I do on a routine basis—a lingual frenulectomy. In other words, I just had my tongue tie cut and released. 

The medical term for tongue tie is ankyloglossia. Many people have a band of tissue that tethers the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth in the midline. This prevents proper tongue movement and normal resting posture in the mouth. My condition was mild to moderate in degree and I had no significant effects that I knew of, but since my son was scheduled to undergo this procedure, I decided to have it done as well, just to show him my support. 

The procedure was performed by an oral surgeon DDS and MD, in his office. After a topical anesthetic was applied, Novocaine (an anesthetic) was injected. Getting the numbing medication was the most uncomfortable part. Afterwards, he used a CO2 laser to make the cut and remove the thin band of tissue.

Is was a bit rough for the first few days, but by day 5 to 6, I was able to eat normal foods. It’s been about one week since the surgery, and I’m slowly beginning to feel better and better. My speech is still a bit affected, but I can talk relatively normally. I’m now feeling things in my mouth that I could never feel before.

Newborn infants came to me in years past with severe tongue tie, which prevented them from latching on to their mother’s breast. After a simple cut in the office, infants are usually able to latch on and start feeding immediately. It’s a wonderful feeling to see this. Since the tongue is your most important orthodontic appliance, it’ important to have good tongue mobility. Having underdeveloped jaws can lead to dental crowding and sleep-related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.

Not all cases of tongue tie should to cut, but if there’s any significant tethering, it’s something to bring up with your doctor. Oftentimes, the younger you are, the easier the recovery. This  ended up being the case for my son—he’s healing much faster. Having undergone even this minor procedure is a great reminder for me what my own patients must experience, especially with much more aggressive procedures. Sometimes, a doctor needs a taste of his or her own medicine once in a while.

For a great resource on tongue tie, take a look at this article on Dr. Brian Palmer’s website.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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6 thoughts on “A Small Taste of My Own Medicine

  1. Hi Dr. Steven Park,

    Ouch, pray that you get well. My father and my grand mother both had thick tongue and snored. Both big size and short chin. Angry easily and high blood pressure. Both had heart attacked and passed away at 67yo and 72yo.

    I am on auto cpap about 5years. Intellectually our breathding system determine our thinking capability. Which determine our outcome in many decisions in the process. This is so true that we are all inherite the good the bad and at times the ugly.

    How is your book progress. Would love to have a first read. Kushida osa books were inspirational. Awaiting for yours.

    Baruch Hashem Adonai.

    Malvin

  2. hi Dr. Park;
    yes, my son had this done as we started his Biobloc orthodontia. I’m sure you know but for the benefit of those reading the blog, the tongue must sit on the palate in order to develop it properly. having a tongue tie from birth that prevents the tongue from sitting in the palate will lead to a high arched and narrow palate, which will narrow the nasal airway and lead to mouth breathing. normal oral posture is not possible with a significant tongue tie.

    we were recommended to start some daily tongue exercises after the procedure, to prevent the frenum from contracting back down. do you have a set of those that you normally recommend, that you are planning to do?

  3. Dr. Deb,

    Thanks for remaining me about the importance of tongue exercises if you ever undergo this procedure. I started doing it from the beginning, and still do. An orofacial myologist can help with these exercises.

  4. Congratulations on your frenectomy! As a myofunctional therapist, I recommend frenectomy for my TMJ, Orthotropic, Sleep Disordered Breathing patients as well as to Mom’s having certain problems breastfeeding.

    I personally underwent a frenectomy about 6 months ago. Combined with myofunctional therapy and orthodontics to reverse my first round of ortho at age 15, I feel like a new person! Breathing and sleep have improved dramatically.

    I’m so glad to have found your site and book! Your multi-faceted approach to sleep breathing is fabulous!

    Happy New Year!

  5. I had my laser lingual frenectomy done 10 days ago. I am a 66 y.o. female, and I had two prior frenectomies, one at birth and one at 16 prior to orthodontia. At my prior frenectomy, I was never told to do exercises to prevent the scar tissue from reattaching the tongue. This time I consulted a myofunctional therapist for evaluation, and she had me start tongue stretching exercises several days before the procedure. I am now continuing the exercises twice a day.

    How distressing that your tongue tie has grown back in 2 weeks. I think the exercises I was prescribed are effective for making my tongue work better. But the best thing the therapist told me to do to prevent tongue reattachment is to pull my tongue out so much that it hurts. I take a gauze pad in each hand and use them to wrap around and pull out my tongue. The gauze pads provide good traction for the fingers. I find I could do my exercises much better after I started pulling and holding my tongue out.

    I hope you will go through the procedure again if the scar tissue is holding your tongue down. The procedure will probably go easier the second time, if you don’t wait so long that scar tissue has built up much.