Restricted Frenums: The link between Sleep apnea, breastfeeding difficulties, crooked teeth, and more

Did you know that having a restricted frenum in your mouth can lead to obstructive sleep apnea, breastfeeding difficulties, colicky babies, gum disease, mouth breathing, orthodontic relapse, and more oral and overall health effects?  I have made the video below with the world leader in Buteyko breathing re-education, Mr. Patrick McKeown in hopes of raising awareness about such conditions, and educating the public; as this has become a major public health issue. In this video, you will learn how something so small as a restricted frenum can cause a lot of damage to a person’s quality of life; and that detection, and proper management of these oral anomalies can make a world of a difference.

So, what is a frenum?  A frenum is a membraneous fold of skin or mucous membrane that supports or restricts the movement of a part or organ, such as the small band of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth”. (American Heritage Dictionary)  There are seven frenums located in the oral cavity: Four buccal frenums (which are found connecting the cheek to the alveolar ridge), one maxillary labial frenum (which is found underneath the upper lip), one mandibular labial frenum (which is found underneath the lower lip), and one lingual frenum (which is found on the underside of your tongue).  If any of these frenums are restricted, a myriad of cascading oral and overall health effects will follow.

Frenum restrictions can lead to:

  • difficulty breastfeeding and latching on,
  • SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome),
  • mastitis,
  • colicky babies,
  • spaces between your teeth,
  • orthodontic relapse,
  • habitual mouth breathing,
  • craniofacial changes that can impinge upon the airway,
  • obstructive sleep apnea,
  • digestive problems,
  • TMD (Jaw pain),
  • tongue thrust,
  • speech misarticulations,
  • Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders, and many more.

Proper diagnosis, treatment, and management can help prevent or arrest such health conditions associated with these restrictions.  To address a frenum restriction, a person must undergo what is called a frenectomy.  A frenectomy is a minor procedure that is done in a few minutes to release these restrictions.

Frenectomies must be followed through with post-frenectomy exercises, to prevent re-attachment, develop and improve motor function, increase kinesthetic awareness of the tongue and lips, and improve articulation among other.  These exercises must be followed through with a Myofunctional Therapist.  Myofunctional Therapists, work in a multidisciplinary way; with various medical and dental professionals, to establish proper orofacial balance.  Their therapy is known as Myofunctional Therapy, which is neuromuscular re-education; used to correct the improper function of the tongue and facial muscles that are used at rest, for chewing and for swallowing. (This definition of Myofunctional therapy came from my mentor and world leader in the field, Joy Moeller)

A person undergoing a frenectomy may also need to undergo breathing re-education, such as the Buteyko breathing re-education method; as in most cases habitual mouth breathing is established due to these restrictions.  It is imperative to address these habitual mouth breathing patterns, as mouth breathing creates a total body imbalance.  Mouth breathing has been associated with:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Rhinitis
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Inflammation
  • Gum disease
  • Crooked teeth
  • Orthodontic relapse and more.

The video that was put together, is evidence based and backed by research.  Enjoy, and stay tuned for more videos to come.

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