Frequently Asked Questions

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FAQ || Swallowing

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We have answers to some of the commonly asked questions.

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What do you mean I'm not swallowing correctly? 

We use one type swallowing technique as an infant when drinking liquids, sometimes called an infantile swallow, we use a different type of swallow for eating solid foods. In fact, the swallow can be altered as early as 20 weeks in utero when a tongue-tie is present. Some kids grow out of this infantile swallow all on their own, however, with so many soft foods in our diet, undetected tongue-ties, rapid eating behaviors, and breathing issues, others do not. When this infantile swallow is noticed in an older child or an adult, we call it a tongue thrust swallow or a forward thrust swallow. In a tongue thrust swallow, the tongue suctions up against the front teeth or pushes through the front teeth, instead of the roof of the mouth. The tongue should be pressed to the roof of the mouth and make a wave motion towards the back of the mouth during a proper swallow. 

Can I learn how to swallow properly?

Absolutely! When retraining muscles of the body and reconnecting those body movements with our brain we create new neural pathways.  Working with a Myofunctional therapist or other experts in these areas you can learn how to swallow correctly. Learning how to swallow properly does take time and effort     it is a skill   in which you will utilize throughout your entire life.  Sometimes with any new skill, we can get lazy and forget to incorporate it into our daily lives: You can always refer back to what you were taught to fix any swallowing relapse. Adults can move fairly rapidly through the myofunctional therapy sessions regarding swallowing; It takes perseverance to incorporate what you’ve learned   into your own life on a daily basis. Kids are so quick to learn new things but forming habits with children can take more time, accountability, and parental involvement. The comprehensive myofunctional therapy program allows for each individual child's needs to be met.

How does swallowing incorrectly affect me? 

Improper swallow can affect you in many ways.  Here are a few: 

One way it can negatively affect you is regarding digestion. Digestion begins in our mouths with proper chewing and swallowing. If we're not swallowing properly, we may swallow air, this leads to upset stomach and excess gas.

It can also negatively impact individuals with acid reflux sometimes even being one of the causes.

Another way it can affect you is that it can move your teeth, making it difficult to have excellent orthodontic results.  It takes 1.4 grams of force to move your teeth during orthodontic treatments; our tongue can exert about 500 grams of force. When you consider that we swallow between 600- 1200 Times a day, it's not hard to see why the teeth are affected. Being able to swallow properly from a young age can prevent or lessen the crowding of teeth. As an adult swallowing properly helps keep teeth straight once an orthodontist aligns them, helping prevent, what we call, orthodontic relapse.

Lastly, it can make it difficult to eat different textures. Sometimes a person will have a very strong gag reflex or aversions to different foods. This usually starts in childhood but can continue into adulthood.  When limiting more textured foods you could limit the type of nutrients your body takes in, as well as limiting the amount you chew, which can lead to underdeveloped facial muscles. 


FAQ || Tongue-Ties

What is a tongue-tie? Do I have one?

A Tongue-tie refers to little piece of connective tissue beneath your tongue that attaches your tongue the floor of your mouth. This piece of tissue, known as a lingual frenum or frenulum, looks like a small band beneath your tongue and can cause in lot of problems for some individuals. When someone has a tongue -tie it can also be called ankyloglossia. Some lingual frenum are very short and very restricting, others are very deep and difficult to see on the surface.  It's important to note that just seeing that little band of tissue beneath your tongue does not mean there is reason to be concerned. A skilled specialist, like a myofunctional therapist can help to determine if your lingual frenum is causing impairment to the way the muscles of the mouth, tongue, neck, face, or throat work. 

I've been told I have a tongue-tie why should I be concerned?

A tongue-tie is a concern when it causes impairment to the functions of the mouth, tongue, facial muscles, and throat. A tongue-tie can affect digestion, swallowing, chewing, breathing, speaking, sleep, snoring, grinding teeth, crooked teeth, cavities, and more. One of the worst things a tongue-tie can do is cause poor tongue posture. In children who have poorly positioned tongues, their cranial facial development can be altered. When the tongue is positioned properly it works as nature’s palate expander during times of growth, aiding in the full development of the upper and lower jaws which in turn helps to grow a fully developed airway. 

How can my tongue make my body hurt? 

The tongue and upper body are connected. The hyoid bone is anchored to the jaw, tongue, sternum, shoulder blades, and thyroid, by 9 short muscles.  When the tongue is anchored down to the floor of the mouth by a short lingual frenum, also known as a tongue-tie, it causes tension and pain in the upper body. When one part of our body gets pulled out of place it's like a chain reaction in the rest of the body; our body is forced to make other compensations to try to correct what is happening somewhere else down the line. Some individuals experience great muscle tension relief after a frenectomy. Did you know that your body’s structural alignment can influence your temporal mandibular joint and occlusion (how your teeth fit together) The tongue is part of the body it is connected to muscles and bones so when the tongue is restricted or weak, other imbalances can occur throughout your body causing pain. 

FAQ || Frenectomy

What is a frenectomy? 

Frenectomy, Functional Frenectomy, or Frenuloplasty is a relatively minor surgical procedure performed to loosen or remove overly large, tight, or poorly positioned band(s) of tissue that are present inside the mouth, connected to the lip, cheeks or floor of the mouth (frenum). A condition commonly referred to as being “tongue-tied” or “ankyloglossia” is referring to the band of tissue beneath the tongue. 

Once the tissue has been removed, the wound will typically be sutured (stitches). Sometimes the procedure is done with a laser instead, in that case, you won’t have sutures, but you will have special wound care instructions and stretches.

A functional frenectomy is a quick procedure, generally taking less than 45 minutes, and is often performed with just local anesthesia. This is typically preformed by an oral surgeon and a dental professional or myofunctional therapist can help you find a great provider!

FAQ || Insurance

since this isn’t dental how does insurance figure in?

Oral Myofunctional disorders are considered developmental in nature, as opposed to being acquired through an injury or illness. This means that most insurance companies will determine the treatment to be “not medically necessary”.  Myofunctional therapy is considered medical not dental, so any questions to your insurance company should be done through your medical provider. Better Breathing MN does not submit to insurance companies currently.  We do offer care credit, accept credit cards, and can provide receipts for health or flex savings accounts.

What are some of the risks of a functional frenectomy?

Some risks are possible and it’s important to discuss them with your surgeon. They include but are not limited to reattachment, loss of feeling or nerve damage, bleeding, or discomfort.

Why should I do myofunctional therapy before my frenectomy? 

Functional therapy lays the groundwork for your awareness as well as increases muscle tone which allows the provider to do a better procedure. Doing myofunctional therapy before your frenectomy can also decrease your bleeding after the procedure. The myofunctional exercises you get before your frenectomy gets your tongue moving so you can recognize what a huge difference you're experiencing right after your procedure. Therapy usually begins 2-4 weeks prior to the frenectomy, which is just one to two visits.