Home / My Blog / Myofunctional Therapy Interview From The Regenerative Health Summit – Part Two

Tongue-ties and the frenectomy procedure to release a tongue-tie are a big topic at the moment! I got a chance to talk about this condition earlier this year when I appeared on The Regenerative Health Summit, an online health event set up by Lindsay Seitter, a holistic certified nurse practitioner. I was happy to be part of the team of health professionals she brought together for the summit. It was a real pleasure to talk about myofunctional therapy because I think it’s so important to share as much information as I can about this amazing field and how it can offer so many health benefits to a wide range of people of all ages.

Here’s the second part of the recording of the interview along with the transcript. Part one can be found here.


What Is A Tongue-Tie?

Lindsay Seitter:       So, what is a tongue-tie? You’ve touched on this briefly. What is a tongue-tie and why does it matter?

Sarah Hornsby:        So a tongue-tie is a problem with the tongue, basically. It’s a physical problem. If you think about underneath your tongue. If you’ve ever looked in the mirror and opened your mouth and lifted up your tongue, underneath we all have a line of tissue or—it’s not a tendon, but it looks like a piece of skin. That is the frenum. In some people this is too short or too tight.

Basically, the problem with it is that it restricts movement. It makes it difficult, if not impossible, for people to rest their tongue in the right position, to swallow properly. And most people who are tongue-tied have all these myofunctional issues. Also, they’re now linking tongue-tie to kids and adults to sleep apnea and TMJ problems. So it’s like all these pieces are coming together.

Finally, we’re just now starting to get more research on tongue-ties. I think it’s always been something that’s been underdiagnosed and not looked at in the dental community. We look at the teeth. We kind of forget about the tongue. But the problem, I think, that’s always been around is that we haven’t had a measuring system. There’s no international standardized criteria for diagnosing a tongue-tie. It’s been up to the opinion of the dentist or doctor looking at it.

Some of the things that I might consider a problem – I would look at someone’s tongue and say, “Gosh. That is restricted. That’s gonna cause a problem with all of these things that I care about.” It might be very easy for a dentist or a pediatrician to look at that and say, “Oh, that’s fine. That doesn’t matter, if it doesn’t affect their speech and it didn’t affect breastfeeding when they were a baby, then it’s not a big deal.” To me, that’s been a problem.

In the past two years, the topic of tongue-ties around breastfeeding and around oral development in kids and health problems in adults has become a huge conversation. I am amazed at the changes that I’ve seen around this. I used to sound like the crazy person for recommending that people have their tongue-tie released or have something called a frenectomy. But now, people are actually seeking me out and saying, “Hey. I think I have this problem.” Or, “I think my child my has this problem.”

If you’re into the “Where does it come from?”, it’s actually a minor birth defect. It’s connected so something we’ve probably all heard about if you’ve looked into health at all, that MTHFR gene mutation that’s connected to so many other issues. Tongue-tie and midline defects are just part of this. If you’re tongue-tied, you’ve definitely got this gene mutation. It’s pretty much the same thing as if you were a baby born with webbing between your fingers or between your toes. It’s not how we should be. It’s not normal, and it’s definitely not a healthy thing to have. It causes big problems in people as they get older and definitely in breastfeeding babies. There’s a ton of information out there now, and I’m really happy that the tides are changing around this topic.

Lindsay Seitter:       That’s really interesting. I didn’t realize that tongue-tie was associated with the MTHFR gene mutation.

Sarah Hornsby:        Yeah. Isn’t that fascinating?

Lindsay Seitter:       That is. A lot of babies who are diagnosed with tongue-tie, they get the frenectomy. What types of exercises or things do you to do avoid that? How do you treat it besides that?

Sarah Hornsby:        Oh, that’s a really good question. In an ideal world, every baby in every hospital or home birth would get screened for a tongue-tie. If they had it, it would be released when they’re very young. The procedure is very simple then. If the baby goes right into breastfeeding, which, again, in an ideal world that would happen. The breastfeeding suck, swallow, breath coordination that the baby does with the tongue and the lips and the mouth when they feed, that alone is enough exercising for proper healing.

Sometimes we think of this as, “Oh. It’s only a problem that babies would have. And if they can breastfeed, they don’t need their tongue-tie released. And if they can’t breastfeed, then they can always bottle-feed. So why does it really matter?” But, as you were saying, it is connected to more things, like I was explaining. The exercises that need to be done—as we get older, that’s really when it’s important. Breastfeeding is an exercise for babies.


The Frenectomy Procedure And Myofunctional Therapy Exercises

For an older child who’s not breastfeeding, or an adult obviously, if you have that tongue-tie released, it’s very important to do exercises before the procedure, so the tongue gets strong. Some coordination is gained, and muscle control is gained. Then, you have the procedure. It’s a very simple procedure. It should take 10 or 15 minutes. I have lots of recommendations on how to find the right doctor to do this. I’m not somebody who likes to just say, “Oh, yeah. Have surgeries.” When it comes to a tongue-tie, this is actually really, really important. Then, after they have the surgery, then they have to learn how to use the tongue properly. Especially older children and adults, if you’ve been using your tongue in a dysfunctional way your entire life, just because it’s released, doesn’t mean that the muscles just magically know how to work correctly on their own.

People who are tongue-tied need to learn all those four goals I mentioned. A lot of times they need to learn how to nasal breathe. They need to learn how to rest their tongue properly on the roof of the mouth. They need to learn how to rest their lips together, and they need to learn how to swallow properly. The exercises are so important. Sometimes they get missed. Sometimes I think we get kind of eager. We’re like, “Oh, I found the problem. I’m just gonna go have my tongue-tie released or my child’s tongue-tie released as soon as I can.” I do have people who reach out to me after the fact, and they say, “Oh. I didn’t realize I needed to do these exercises.”

The problem with not doing exercises before and after is that the chances for reattachment are very high. It just has to do with our mouths are very efficient at healing. If the muscles aren’t prepared and aren’t strengthened. It’s pretty much just gonna go right back to the way it was. Our bodies are meant to heal wounds. The exercises, in a lot of ways, are helping the wound heal in a more open way. If that makes sense? That sounds kind of strange. The exercises are critical.

Lindsay Seitter:       That’s great. Most people don’t think about the exercises or that they’re important. That’s really interesting.

Sarah Hornsby:        Yeah.

Sleep Apnea Myofunctional Therapy

Myofunctional Therapy And Sleep Apnea

Lindsay Seitter:       So how does myofunctional therapy help patients, then, with sleep apnea?

Sarah Hornsby:        The biggest things is actually very simple, and we talked about it already—nasal breathing. If you’re an adult with sleep apnea, you’re also a mouth breather. It might just be at night, but it’s probably during the day and the night. So just changing that nasal breathing, changing from mouth breathing to nasal breathing, that helps people with sleep apnea a ton. Usually they start to feel better. They have more energy. That’s just the first level. That’s super simple.

The other thing is that people who breathe through their mouths, they have something I’ve mentioned before. It’s called a tongue-thrust. Basically, that just means that your tongue is very low muscle tone. It’s hanging out in the bottom of your mouth, and you’ve pretty much just got out of shape muscles in your mouth, flabby weak muscles. What happens is, when we have sleep apnea, we fall asleep and all the soft flabby muscles in the tongue and the soft palate and the throat and everything collapse into the airway.

You don’t even have to be an overweight or obese person. This can happen to thin, healthy people. You don’t have to be old. You don’t have to be a man. People of any age can get sleep apnea. A lot of women have it too. By doing myofunctional exercises and strengthening those muscles, they become more toned and firm. And the people with sleep apnea have more control over their mouth and their throat. The tissue doesn’t fall into their throat and block their airway as much. That’s what the research is showing.

We actually have studies that have just come out in the past five years talking about the benefits of doing oral exercises in improving the apnea-hypopnea scores and oxygen desaturation scores and all that when it comes to sleep apnea. So that’s, I think, very exciting. Honestly, I think, because sleep apnea is such a major health problem, this is really where my field is getting noticed. As research comes out in these certain areas, people started thinking, “Hmm. I wonder what this myofunctional stuff is. Maybe it’ll help me with my sleep apnea.” I think, that’s always something people are interested in because it’s such a hard thing for people, having to wear a CPAP or having to be exhausted all the time. Of course, there’s other health issues associated with having sleep apnea.

I think learning to breathe through your nose, strengthening up the muscles in your mouth, throat, and tongue – it’s a very simple way that, if you can improve your quality of life a little bit, for someone who has sleep apnea, it’s such a simple way to have big changes.

Lindsay Seitter:       Yeah. That’s really huge. There’s so many people out there who are suffering with sleep apnea and don’t realize it, or they don’t want to go get it checked out. My dad’s one of them.

Sarah Hornsby:        Mm-hmm. Aww.

Lindsay Seitter:       He has been a snorer for years and knows he has sleep apnea, but he’s not wanting to go get a sleep study because he doesn’t want to be on a CPAP machine or sleep with a mouth appliance or do any of these things to help correct it. So that’s really cool that there are exercises that people can do because it does disrupt so many things—

Sarah Hornsby:        Oh, my gosh. I know.

Lindsay Seitter:       – increasing risk for cardiovascular disease, hormone balance, affecting your adrenals. Just so much can get disrupted when you don’t have—your immune system…

Sarah Hornsby:        Everything.

Lindsay Seitter:       Yes.

Sarah Hornsby:        And I wonder how much of that is connected to the mouth-breathing side of things. We talked about the increased chances of getting sick, the immune system problems, the nitric oxide not being there. I think it’s this cascade of problems that all combines, and people don’t feel good. You’ll have to ask your dad about his tongue position and his breathing during the day and see what he says.

Lindsay Seitter:       Yeah, I will. That’ll be interesting to find out.

Sarah Hornsby:        [Laughing]

Lindsay Seitter:       Well, Sarah, this has been so much fun learning about this really exciting stuff. Do you have anything else you want to tell our audience before we wrap up?

Sarah Hornsby:        Yeah, sure. If you guys are interested in finding me, I’ve got a YouTube channel I try to update all the time. I’m always making videos, talking about this stuff and trying to just get information out there. You can search for me on YouTube and subscribe to my channel if you want. I’ve also got a myofunctional therapy support group on Facebook. If you wanna joint that and see what people are posting and see what I have to share, that’s a great way to get information for free too.

Of course, you can go to my website. That’s myfaceology.com. You can always book a free assessment with me or just read my blogposts and the articles that I post on there. I’m always trying to get the word out on this stuff. And I’m really excited that I can share it at this health summit. I know it’s gonna reach a lot of people.

Lindsay Seitter:       Thank you so much. Yes. And everyone who is listening, please take advantage of going to Sarah’s webpage, going to her YouTube channel and taking advantage of her free assessment because there’s so much valuable information that she’s shared today. I know that she will really help you. So thank you, again, Sarah.

Sarah Hornsby:        Yeah, thanks.

Lindsay Seitter:       And thank you to everyone who is joining us today. This interview will be available for the remainder of the summit. Please make sure to go back and listen to it again to hear any important pieces you may have missed by going to the link sent to you in your email. Also, make sure to post your questions and feedback on the Regenerative Health Summit Facebook page. And invite your family and friends to come join us by sending them to regenerativehealthsummit.com. We still have some really great interviews left, so please join me tomorrow to learn more valuable information on the Regenerative Health Summit. Break through to a strong, resilient body by maximizing your health at the cellular level. I’m your host, Lindsay Seitter, and until next time, cheers to a happy, healthy, purposeful life.


One Comment

  1. Pingback: Myofunctional Therapy Interview From The Regenerative Health Summit - Part One - Myofunctional Therapy Exercises for Mouth Breathing, Sleep Apnea, Braces, and Speech

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