My Lingual Frenum Story

 

For quite some time now I have been considering having my lingual frenum released.  When I placed my finger under my tongue and gave a gentle push inwards at the base of the tongue, I could feel the tightness of the frenum "like a guitar string". Mine was a mild restriction; this restriction never caused jaw, neck or back tension as a moderate-severe restriction would. Nor was it a thick fibrous band which could be felt on patients from time to time, but the restriction was there nonetheless. 

I've been reading extensively on this subject, and one idea that kept popping up was the notion that releasing the frenum can support a better posture.  Current research indicates that lingual frenum restrictions can cause scoliosis; in elementary school I was diagnosed with a mild case.  All my life I have been constantly repositioning my shoulders trying to get my head and neck back onto my shoulder girdle. 

So I decided I would have it released.  I was curious to see if my posture could be improved. Most of my tongue touches the roof of my mouth with light suctioning just like it should - so achieving proper tongue resting posture wasn't my goal. 

I called Dr. Paul Calat, DMD, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon (www.midmanhattanoralsurgery.com) who fortunately slipped me into his busy schedule that afternoon.  I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't nervous - after all it IS surgery.  But I knew I was in the hands of a skilled surgeon; he performs tongue and lip tie releases with all my patients. They like his gentle bedside manner and characterize him as a 'teddy bear'. His work is flawless; when he performs a release of the tongue or lip a revision is never needed.  

Here's the pre-op picture.  You can barely see the restriction.

 
 
Day 1:
So here it is -  the big release!  Note the beautiful open diamond at the base of the tongue.  Putting a stitch into the incision is NEVER needed plus it would create a greater restriction.  It is important to keep the diamond open so it heals from the outside inward; this minimizes scaring.  
 
You can see the restriction is GONE!.  When the procedure was completed, which took about two minutes with a laser, I asked him if he saw/felt the frenum 'pop'. He said it did immediately; unfortunately, I couldn't feel it pop as I was given local anesthesia.    

WOUND MANAGEMENT:  I started the exercise program that day.  I followed my prescription - which is stretching a minimum of three times a day. However, I did more.  A LOT more.  It felt like I HAD to stretch my tongue. CONSTANTLY.  I could feel the pull in the base of the tongue (the healing process) which would stop after a couple minutes of good stretching.  It felt so much better after I stretched!  From time to time as I conducted the stretches I could feel my sinuses pop open; that was a surprise.  As far as pain goes, I took an Advil the night of the procedure before bed and once the next day.  That's all the Advil I needed. The soreness was primarily in the base of the tongue where the swelling typically occurres. 

Immediately I could feel the back of my tongue sit up against the roof of my mouth. I THOUGHT I had good lingual/palatal contact however, now that the tongue was released I could really feel the difference. 

From this experience I created new and better exercises to get maximum stretch which I've added to my exercise program.  This has been an extremely informative experience.  Now I can truly relate to my patients who need to have this procedure done. 

Here's Day 2: 

Look how quickly it healed!  I was astounded to see how quickly the body repaired itself overnight.

Here's Day 3:

It's closing up FAST!  It heals so quickly!  I tried to keep it open by stretching the area however each morning it healed even further - the body just wants to repair itself. 

Here's Day 7:

Here's Day 21:

It continued to heal but at this point I no longer stretched it. 

Note: Three months later I was looking at my occlusion: how my teeth line up and 'fit'.  I noticed my mild unilateral cross bite was GONE.  I never expected that to change.  It's incredible!  This demonstrates the importance of the entire tongue sitting up against the roof of the mouth .  The posterior lateral margins were placing light continuous pressure against the sides of my molars.  Since the tongue provides the scaffolding for the upper dental arch it is now wider and in it's correct position.  

As far my posture improving?  I didn't notice a shift here.  I still constantly make postural adjustments.  However, my adult patients who demonstrated a more significant restriction do notice a change in their ability to stand and sit straighter.