The lingual frenum (also called the tongue) is a small structure located at the back of your mouth. It connects your lips to your throat and provides support for chewing food. It helps with swallowing and speaking properly.
When it’s not functioning properly, eating or talking, you may experience pain when you bite down on something hard. You might feel like you’re choking. Or worse: You could have trouble breathing if the ligament isn’t strong enough to keep air from getting trapped between your lungs and your chest wall.
Other symptoms include difficulty swallowing, loss of taste sensation in some areas of your mouth, and even difficulty walking or standing up straight due to pressure on certain parts of the body.
Lingual frenums are usually found near the base of your neck and just above your Adam’s apple. They’re often missing from other parts of the face because they don’t need to be there to form a complete seal with your teeth. But sometimes they do grow back, especially if you’ve had surgery on them.
If you have one, it’s best to see a doctor immediately so that they can figure out what caused the problem and possibly fix it before it gets worse.
Surgery is a common way of correcting lingual frenums because it’s faster and more efficient than other methods. There are several ways to do this, though, depending on where the ligament is growing from. If it’s located too high up in your throat, for instance, then your doctor will likely cut the tissue and reattach it lower down so that it doesn’t bother you anymore.
They might use stitches or surgical glue to keep the tissue in place. The method that’s used depends on your doctor and their experience with the operation.
If the frenum is located at the bottom of your throat, then your surgeon will likely detach it from the rest of your mouth entirely. They’ll do this by cutting the frenum and using sutures to hold it in place once they’ve detached it. Again, some doctors might use surgical glue instead of stitches.
The operation is minimally invasive and can be done on an outpatient basis, so you should be able to leave the hospital within 24 hours of going under the knife. Most people will experience some pain around their throat for the first few days after the procedure. Speaking or eating anything too rough can make your throat sore, so try your best to take it easy for a little while.
Your doctor might also prescribe you some antibiotics or pain medication.
If you’re having trouble breathing, choking, or feeling like there’s something stuck in your throat, then it’s important to call your physician immediately. These are signs that the frenum is still affecting you and could be reduced or reopened if the tissue isn’t held down properly.
Sources & references used in this article:
Tongue-tie by CE Horton, HH Crawford, JE Adamson, TS Ashbell – Cleft Palate J, 1969 – researchgate.net
The importance of the identification of ankyloglossia (short lingual frenulum) as a cause of breastfeeding problems by GE Notestine – Journal of Human Lactation, 1990 – journals.sagepub.com
Lingual frenulum and effect on breastfeeding in Thai newborn infants by S Ngerncham, M Laohapensang… – Paediatrics and …, 2013 – Taylor & Francis
Oral diagnosis of abnormal frenum attachments in neonates and infants: evaluation and treatment of the maxillary and lingual frenum using the Erbium: YAG … by LA Kotlow – J Pediatric Dent Care, 2004 – kiddsteeth.com
Posterior ankyloglossia: a case report by MW Chu, DC Bloom – International journal of pediatric otorhinolaryngology, 2009 – Elsevier
Lasers and soft tissue treatments for the pediatric dental patient by L Kotlow – Alpha Omegan, 2008 – kiddsteeth.com
Short lingual frenulum and obstructive sleep apnea in children by YS Huang, S Quo, JA Berkowski… – Int J Pediatr …, 2015 – sugarlandspeech.com
Use of laser technology in orthodontics: hard and soft tissue laser treatments by MD Genovese, G Olivi – European Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 2010 – Citeseer