There are certain stereotypes associated with sleep apnea. In general, most people think of overweight men who snore through the night keeping everyone else awake. Of course, women also suffer from the condition and obesity is one of the most common causes. Another cause that seldom gets mentioned is tongue tie.
Underneath the tongue is a fold of mucus membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This is called the lingual frenulum. When the membrane is too thick, short or tight, it causes a tongue tie. Motion of the tongue is limited, which can affect nursing, speech and/or sleep.
Anterior tongue ties are very visible because they are located near the baby’s gumline when the tongue is raised. A posterior tongue tie occurs further underneath the tongue. A simple procedure is used to release the tongue so it can have natural range of movement. When it is not treated, problems, including sleep issues, develop.
Impact on Sleep
Infants with tongue tie can experience sleep problems and the situation can worsen as the child continues to grow. Tongue tie can lead to mouth breathing. This type of breathing interferes with the brain’s ability to reach the deepest level of sleep. Individuals who suffer from mouth breathing will often awaken feeling unrefreshed and tired. Children and adults with tongue tie may be getting the right amount of sleep, but the quality of sleep is not adequate for the body to rest and heal itself.
The limited movement of the tongue in infancy can cause deficiencies in development of the craniofacial-respiratory complex. There needs to be adequate pressure from the tongue against the palate in utero and during infancy in order for the nasal cavity and palate to develop normally. Deficiencies such as a smaller-than-normal nasal cavity, high arched palate or deviated septum may form if there is insufficient pressure.
If the tongue tie is not addressed, the jaw may be less developed than normal. This would cause the tongue to rest down and take up more airway space. Since the frenulum prevents the tongue from resting in the palate, it relaxes back into the throat, closing off part of the airway and creating obstructive sleep apnea.
Tongue tie is a condition that is easily treatable. Without diagnosis and treatment, the impact can cause lasting health problems. The Atlanta Sleep Apnea Treatment Center can help diagnose this condition and help you get the sleep you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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