Tongue Tie in Adults: 5 Shocking Associated Problems

Tongue tie in adults is a condition where an individual’s tongue stays joined to their mouth’s base, it is otherwise called ankyloglossia. Read on to know more about tongue ties and several problems associated with them.

Tongue Tie in Adults

A tongue tie happens when the thin piece of tissue (lingual frenulum) interfacing the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than normal.

The short frenulum can confine the range of motion of the tongue. Ankyloglossia in infants and kids has been related to challenges with breastfeeding and speech issues and leads to the further development of tongue and lip ties.

Anybody can foster tongue ties. Sometimes, tongue tie is innate (runs in the family), the condition happens in up to 5 percent of kids (contingent upon the examination and meaning of silence).

Tongue-tie mostly influences babies and children. Yet tongue-tie in adults and adolescents can be prevalent.

Prominent Causes of Tongue Tie in Adults

tongue tie in adults
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From a physiological point of view, tongue-tie in adults can start from infancy.

The mouth’s tongue and floor are fused during the fetal period. Over time, the tongue isolates from the floor of the mouth. In the end, a dainty line of tissue (the frenulum, or lingual frenulum) attaches the lower part of the tongue to the mouth floor.

As a baby develops, the lingual frenulum generally diminishes and shrivels. In kids with tongue ties, the frenulum stays thick and doesn’t retreat, making it hard to move the tongue.

Symptoms of Tongue Tie in Adults

Tongue Tie In Adults
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If you have tongue-tie in adulthood, odds are you’ve adjusted to living with it.

Around 3.5 to 5 percent, surprisingly, are born with ankyloglossia. Also, a few specialists suggest guardians hold off on ankyloglossia medical procedures in babies, as the lingual frenulum will slacken over time.

Because of limited tongue mobility, tongue-tie in adults experience issues with:

  • Talking
  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Sleeping
  • Kissing

Other normal indications of tongue tie in adults include:

  • Issues keeping your tongue out of your mouth past your lower front teeth
  • Inconvenience lifting your tongue to contact your upper teeth or moving your tongue from one side to another
  • Your tongue looks indented
  • Problems in tongue thrust
  • Constant sore throat
  • Mouth breathing issues
  • Problem while licking ice cream cone
  • Inflamed gums
  • Tooth decay
  • Sinus problems
  • Swallowing issues
  • Lip tie
  • Food debris getting stuck in the throat constantly

Problems Associated with Tongue Ties in Adults

tongue tie in adults
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There are many issues associated with tongue-tie in adults other than limited tongue mobility. The trouble areas include social situations, self-confidence, workplace communication, and dental well-being.

Hence it is seen that the results of unrepaired tongue-tie don’t lessen with time – all things considered, more challenges are capable over the long term.

The particular difficulties a grown-up with a tongue tie may confront include the following:

1. Poor Oral Health and Unhealthy Teeth

Tongue tie in adults confines the development of the lips or tongue. This makes it difficult to swallow and move the tongue appropriately.

This way, this influences the progression of salivation in the mouth.

tongue bacteria
By sruilk/

Since salivation is basic for washing away plaque and oral microbes, the probability of cavities and gum infection is much higher in patients with ankyloglossia.

2. TMJ Dysfunction

The development of the tongue in adolescence immensely affects the position and advancement of the teeth and the construction of the jaw.

TMJ Dysfunction
By Alex Mit/

If the tongue is fixed, it can’t move as expected. This typically prompts a tight mouth, jaw, and sense of taste.

Thus, limited or little jaw movement may occur, this can bring about pain in the temporomandibular joint that associates the mandible with the skull.

TMJ can prompt extreme jaw and neck pain, trouble moving the jaw, jaw “locking,” and other disagreeable side effects.

3. Sleep Apnea

The oral structures and airway route get disturbed by tongue ties in adults and lip impedance brought about by ankyloglossia. If the tongue obstructs the nasal pathway, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may result.

sleep apnea
By Billion Photos/

OSA meddles with sleep and can even add to the danger of respiratory failure or stroke.

4. Speech Issues

These are the most recognizable issues identified with a tongue tie in adults. When the tongue is fixed near the mouth and can’t move as expected, it is hard to talk.

Tongue-tie in adults may lead to issues with plosive sounds like “s” and may grow a stutter.

5. Cosmetic Appearance

On first noticing a child with ankyloglossia1, the cosmetic appearance of the tongue and the tie will stick out. The tongue may look little, adjusted, and indented in the midline with a heart-shaped look.

The infant may have the following:

  • Breastfeeding issues
  • Bottle feeding issues
  • Upper lip lisp
  • Open bite
  • Abnormal tongue movement

If the frenum doesn’t arrive at the linguistic edge, this regular heart-shaped may not be obvious, even though the tongue’s capacity may weaken altogether.

As the youngster ages, the appearance changes, and the tongue may look square or thickened and excessively huge for the mouth to twist up along the edges.

The physical tie can change from a thin, versatile layer to a thickened, white non-flexible tissue.

The tie or frenum may stretch out to the linguistic edge causing indenting or spread along the floor of the mouth in a fan shape coming towards the incisors and causing uneasiness or real pain on movement.

How does Tongue Tie in Adults Affect Speech?

Tongue tie in adults
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The natural effect of tongue ties in adults on speech isn’t perceived.

The tongue needs contact with the top of the mouth while articulating the lingual sounds “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “n,” and “l.” When the tongue is confined and can’t arrive at the top of the mouth, the individual can have issues with pronunciation (elocution).

How is Tongue Tie in Adults Treated?

tongue tie in adults
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At times, tongue tie in adults isn’t serious to cause observable indications. Babies and little kids who have tongue-tie but don’t have issues taking care of, gulping, or talking may not need treatment.

Conservative treatment includes – visiting your healthcare provider, who would recommend a speech-language pathologist. Going through with orthodontic treatment during tongue tie may help improve dental health.

Specific exercises and wind instruments can also help care for breathing problems.

If you experience tongue tie and experiences issues taking care of, the specialist can play out a basic surgery in which the lingual frenulum is cut. This is known as a frenectomy (frenulectomy, frenotomy, or tongue division) and is done in the hospital without sedation.

The surgery is generally easy, little youngsters and grown-ups may get pain drugs or general sedation before the surgery.

Similarly, as with any surgery, frenectomy 2conveys dangers of intricacies, including:

  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Injury to the salivation ducts and glands in the mouth

If left untreated, moderate to serious instances of tongue tie in adults can cause the accompanying issues:

  • Long-term issues, which can cause abnormal weight gain or malnourishment
  • Speech hindrances, which can mess up social life
  • Trouble eating certain foods.


Tongue Tie In Adults
Andrea Piacquadio. Pexels. Copyright 2021

At first, tongue ties in adults may seem a petty issue, but untreated tongue ties can become something as serious as speech impairment.

Getting your symptoms checkout to rule out other diagnoses can help, you can also go to a speech therapist if you feel the condition worsening over time.

Remember, patience is the key!

Read more from us here.

Infographic That Explains Most Common Speech Disorders And Treatment Options
Icy Health
  1. Messner, Anna H., et al. “Clinical consensus statement: ankyloglossia in children.” Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery 162.5 (2020): 597-611. ↩︎
  2. Hatami, A., et al. “Effectiveness of tongue‐tie assessment tools in diagnosing and fulfilling lingual frenectomy criteria: a systematic review.” Australian Dental Journal 67.3 (2022): 212-219. ↩︎

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