Paige had always been a singer and an instrumentalist. As she entered her senior year in high school, she had visions of a professional career in music and was looking forward to going to the top jazz school in the nation. She had been accepted in both the vocal jazz program and the French horn program for music performance. Yet, no matter what she did, she couldn’t seem to shake the nagging pain and tenderness that started in the tongue and radiated down the front of her neck, chest, and legs. Her massage therapist helped a little – for a short time, but it kept coming back.
One day in February, Paige was getting her teeth examined and cleaned with her dental hygienist. Karen, her hygienist, had completed a series of courses that focused on tongue issues. It was a fairly new area of study called Myofunctional Therapy or Oral Myology. It consisted of “physical therapy” for the tongue. Karen had known Paige since she was a little girl and had followed her through her journey with braces, retainers, and extractions. Now, at 17, Paige was starting to see relapse – re-crowding of the teeth, especially the lower front teeth.
Asking questions that she had learned in her Oral Myology certification program, she learned about the pain that Paige continued to have on a regular basis. As she was doing her oral cancer exam, she asked Paige to take the tip of her tongue, touch the back of her upper front teeth and open as wide as she could. What she saw opened a whole new world of reasons for the pain that Paige was experiencing. Instead of the floor of the mouth staying quietly between the lower teeth, it raised up and almost covered the biting surfaces of the lower teeth. The tip of her tongue was almost completely tethered to the floor of the mouth!
Explaining what she saw and what it meant made complete sense to Paige and together, they started on a journey of retraining the tongue and strengthening it to do what it was supposed to do. Through a series of visits, Karen had helped Paige to strengthen the back of the tongue and allow it to fill the palate between the teeth. In time, Paige was ready for the tethered tissues to be released so that the tongue could move freely and completely.
After about 5 visits of working on the exercises and strengthening the tongue, Karen’s dentist was ready to release the tongue tie. In a minor surgical release, the tethered tissue was separated back toward the back of the tongue and then the outer tissue were closed together. Paige experienced very little discomfort afterward.
Karen and Paige got together a couple of days after the surgery and talked about what the experience was like. Paige remarked that she had never felt so good because all of the tension in her neck, chest, and legs was relieved. Over the next couple of months, things continued to improve as her tongue posture was trained to do what it was supposed to do.
Sleep-disordered breathing is a significant epidemic in western civilization. The emphasis on processed foods has led to significant changes in facial development over the generations. Wisdom teeth removal has become the standard of care for most people because of the lack of room in the mouth for those teeth. Facial development is children to adults is being seen as a major player in sleep-disordered breathing. When the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth from a young age, it cannot act as an “appliance”, filling the roof of the mouth and allowing the upper jaw to properly expand. When it does, the floor of the nose widens leading to open air passages, less sinus congestion and issues, and better sleep. Myofunctional therapy is one of the tools that is a necessary part of creating a journey to health.
Contact the Open Airway & Breath Institute today, Dr. Robin Steely, DDS and our team are ready to help you find renewed energy and health. Together we’ll find the right solutions to help you address your overall well-being. We welcome patients from Battle Creek, Bedford Charter Township, Kalamazoo, Portage, Marshall, Richland, Holland, Grand Rapids, Hastings, Charlotte, Springfield, and Coldwater. Please contact us or call 269-968-8151, we look forward to working with you!