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Child and Father

Obstruction of the airway can cause sleep apnea, a disorder that results in frequent breathing stops. Sleep apnea, most often associated with adults, affects 1% to 10% of children. Many of these children with mild symptoms will outgrow it, but some do not. Recent research into underlying conditions site tongue-tie as having long-term consequences other than a speech impediment.

The Defect and its Effect on Brain Function

Present at birth, tongue-tie is when the frenulum (a band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth) is too short, thick and thus tight. This results in a restriction of movement of the tongue, preventing necessary actions for speech, feeding and can impact breathing. Current numbers put this defect at 4% to 10% of the population but some suspect it affects as much as 32%.

How does Tongue-Tie Cause Sleep Apnea?

There are two ways that Tongue-Tie contributes to obstructive sleep apnea, also known as OSA.

Many children with a tongue-tie develop the habit of mouth breathing. Over time this perpetual habit can result in micro trauma to the tissues in the back of the throat. The primary issue being the tonsils become enlarged, thus obstructing breathing. This is a leading factor of obstructive sleep apnea.

The effects of tongue-tie and sleep apnea increase mouth breathing which prevents the brain from acquiring adequate levels of quality sleep, sleep apnea. Left untreated, this sleep apnea results in irritability, daytime fatigue, and decreased cognitive function.

In a healthy child’s developing mouth, the tongue reaches and contacts the palate, also known as the roof of the mouth. When this does not occur with tongue-tied children, the tongue adopts a lower resting position in the mouth, and the palate does not develop properly. This results in an abnormally high roof of the mouth, leading to less room for the nasal passages located just above. Thus, there is another possible reason for obstructed breathing and other breathing difficulties.

Solutions are Available

A tied tongue is a problem that can have serious consequences in daily life. Fortunately, treatments and therapy are available.

Contact us now to get you or your child better sleep for a brighter future at the South Carolina Tongue Tie Center.

Posted on behalf of South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

538 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: 843-654-0459


Monday - Thursday: 8am - 5pm
Friday: 8am - 2pm

Our Patient Reviews

South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

4.7 / 5.0

Based on 5 reviews

  • Talia H.

    Great experience with my visit to Dr. McPhearson and Carrie, hygienist. Dr. McPhearson is so patient, kind, and a perfectionist. She cares deeply that you have a great dental visit every time.

  • Maham A.

    I saw Dr. Caitlin McPherson and she is absolutely amazing. Not only does she make sure that everything is beautiful and functional, but she also treats every patient and their concerns with the utmost kindness.

  • Frankie W.

    Dr. McPherson is absolutely the best I highly recommend her and her team for all of your dental needs.

  • Phillip R.

    Everyone is so nice and they all seem to have good comradery. Mallory, Taylor, and Dr. Caitlin McPherson definitely know what they're doing!

  • Kyle A.

    The staff is always friendly & Dr McPherson does a great job every time!

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