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Tongue Ties and Sleep

Tongue Ties and Sleep Apnea

Before beginning this, let me bust a most popular myth:

Myth :

Tongue Ties only affect Speech. If you don’t have speech issues, you don’t have a Tongue Tie.

Truth :

Tongue Ties affect our health in a lot of ways that we can even imagine. Speech is just one small fragment of it. As you read through this article, you’ll be surprised to how many areas of health Tongue Ties affect and the fact that it so commonly exists.

*As a baby grows, the initial symptoms may get masked and change its Form but never really disappear.

As an Airway Dentist and Myofunctional Therapist, we always strive towards helping our patients breathe and sleep better. Unfortunately, Tongue Ties drastically affect these two areas and they are among the first pillars of health to fall. Thus, begins the journey full of compensations and adjustments impacting our health drastically.

What is a Tongue Tie?

Tongue tie (Ankyloglossia) is when a tiny string of tissue (Lingual Frenulum) underneath the Tongue connecting the Floor of the mouth is attached way too tight or is short in length restricting the tongue movements.

The restriction of tongue function due to Tongue Tie may affect Breastfeeding, sucking, swallowing, eating, speech, breathing, sleep, jaw growth, posture and even digestion.

Tongue Tie

What is a Lip Tie?

Lip Tie is when a similar band of tissue (Labial Frenulum) underneath the upper Lip is attached to the gums at a level way too high than normal.

Presence of Lip Tie may result in potential Breastfeeding issues, gap between the tie, short upper lip, gummy smile, unable to close the lip without strain, speech issues and cavities in the front teeth.

Tongue Ties and Sleep
  • There are several recent research stating an important connection between Tongue Ties and Sleep Apnea.
  • Sleep, Airway and Tongue has a very strong and intimate relationship.

Let me explain you how this happens: 

The Tongue- Sleep- Airway Connection

So, the BACK OF THE FACE IS THE AIRWAY! Which makes many of the orofacial muscles a part of the airway too. Some of the muscles of the Tongue even forms the front border of our wind pipe/airway.


When we transition from Light Sleep to Deep Sleep, the muscles relax however doesn’t lose its tonicity. When the Tongue is tied or has low tone or there is poor Tongue space in the mouth due to high arched palate, Tongue isn’t able to stay at the roof of the mouth where its ideally supposed to.

Hence, when we go to deep sleep and the muscles relax, the Tongue may fall back and narrow or obstruct the airway causing Snoring and Sleep Issues.

When there is complete obstruction by the Tongue, there may be apneic episodes at night characterized by cessation of breathing for few seconds. As a defence mechanism, we may wake up as an event of arousals from sleep in the form of coughing, frequent tossing and turning in sleep, midnight wakings etc.

OSA handout2

There might also be a situation where there is significant narrowing of the airway due to tongue fall back but not complete obstruction. This is Upper Airway Resistance syndrome (UARS) which is also most commonly seen nowadays. Since, there will be resistance to airflow at the back of the throat due to narrowing, patients may not actually snore but still wake up with an arousal event. It is possible that UARS isn’t recorded in a Polysomnogram or EEG.

obstructive sleep apnea

All of these events actually affect our sleep and prevents us from getting a good quality sleep.

Poor Sleep Triggers Body’s Fight-Flight Response.

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Moreover, An airway collapse also results in less Oxygen delivery throughout the body’s organs and cells.

Deep Sleep is where the brain needs enough oxygen to rest, repair and rejuvenate. When, this affects due to airway collapse, the body is put under stress. In a state of stress, our brain releases Stress Hormones like those of Cortisol and Adrenaline in greater amount. These hormones are greatly responsible for putting our body into Sympathetic or Flight-Fight mode.

In chronic states, with such events occurring hour after hour, greater amount of Stress Hormones are circulated in the body, never really letting the body to rest and repair. This makes us to feel fatigued, anxious, agitated and have daytime sleepiness.

Moreover, continuous and chronic events of poor sleep and breathing may start affecting all the other organs like those of Digestive System causing acid reflux, strained Eyes, increased Heart rate, Bronchial Dilation leading to chronic Respiratory diseases, Insulin resistance leading to Diabetes, Poor Reproductive Health, Midnight hunger, inability to lose weight etc.

Untreated effects of Tongue Tie present itself like a DOMINO effect. Sleep Disorders may worsen with age and getting hold of it and treating it early is the key.


While conventionally, CPAP is the mode of treatment of Sleep Apnea. However, current research has shown that since, Sleep issues are multi-factorial, hence a multi-disciplinary approach is the most best way to treat sleep issues which includes.

At Oraface, We are proud to have a collaborative team of like-minded professionals to help You and your family have Sleep, Breathe and Smile better!  The First and Exclusive in Gujarat!

If you have any questions, write to us or you can schedule a consultation with us


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