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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

One Tiny Cord Can Cause So Many Problems: Untethered Tongue Tie Center in Milwaukee Can Help

Dec 01, 2021 12:00AM ● By Dr. Meggie Graham


“My oldest nephew appeared to sleep so peacefully at night. He would even snore from time to time, which his parents were convinced was a sign that he was just ‘sleeping hard’. As a baby, he didn’t nurse well for my sister. At two years old, he had some speech delays. As time went on, we recognized that he breathed exclusively through his mouth during the day. As a dentist, I knew something was wrong, and I went searching for answers.”    
–Dr. Meggie Graham

In an effort to find information about the underlying cause of her nephew’s early oral issues, Dr. Meggie Graham of Untethered Toungue Tie Center, in Milwaukee, began a quest to better understand the integral role of the mouth and airway in overall health.

Limited tongue mobility and under-developed facial musculature, for example, can impact everything from proper latching for breastfeeding in infancy to poor posture, breathing problems and chronic fatigue as adults.

Ankyloglossia, commonly known as a tongue tie, is one such condition that can be addressed at an early age to prevent other health conditions down the road. This occurs when the tiny cord that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth fails to develop fully while in the womb. According to research published in 2019 in the Laryngoscope and on, this piece of fascia (called a frenulum or frenum) normally begins to develop in utero during the second trimester. Occasionally the frenulum fails to fully develop in utero and results in a taut, restrictive cord under the tongue.

If this string of tissue is so tight that it restricts normal movement, infants develop movement patterns to compensate in order to function. These compensations can lead to a long list of problems such as feeding and speech difficulty, abnormal jaw development, breathing and sleep disorders, and poor posture and alignment.

A key part of promoting wellness for not only oral health but overall health is to recognize a tongue tie at an early age.

The following five-step assessment can be used by parents and caregivers to look for healthy versus abnormal tongue function and facial development in a child. Consider reaching out to a tongue tie specialist if any of these symptoms are noticed. Early assessment and intervention promotes not only a healthy mouth, but can help to prevent complications later in life to support lifelong wellness of the whole body.

Posture and Breathing: Observe for open mouth posture and/or mouth breathing.

Swallowing: Look for use of facial muscles and lips or messy eating. An optimal swallow only uses the tongue with no facial movement.

Jaw Shape: Note if the upper jaw is narrow, if the roof of the mouth is vaulted (like a thumbprint as opposed to flat and wide) or if the baby teeth are close together without spacing. These are signs that the tongue is not moving optimally.

Sleep: Notice if the child has restless sleep, snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness.

Forward Head Posture: This is often a compensatory posture associated with a tongue tie.

Not all tethered oral issues require intervention. Often, tongue ties can be addressed naturally by retraining muscular habits with the help of a specialist. Occasionally minimally invasive treatment may be the most effective solution.

Graham states, “We are very careful in our diagnosis which can be anywhere from infancy to late adulthood. We believe strongly in an interdisciplinary team approach to addressing these types of issues. That includes some combination of the following team members in order to achieve optimal results: physical therapists, international board-certified lactation consultants (IBCLCs), occupational therapists, chiropractors, oromyologists or myofunctional therapists, craniosacral therapists, speech therapists, feeding specialists, orthodontists and physicians.”

Addressing tongue ties with proper myofunctional therapy and body work, especially pre- and post-operatively in cases that warrant a frenectomy or frenotomy, are natural and preventive wellness approaches to support a quick healing process for patients of any age so that they may have a healthy, functional smile for the rest of their life.

Dr. Meggie Graham received her BS from Arizona State University and her DDS from Marquette University School of Dentistry. She is the owner of Untethered Tongue Tie Center and Lake Park Dental, both located at 2524 E. Webster Pl., #201, Milwaukee. She and her team are dedicated to using integrative, preventive, holistic and minimally invasive methods to help each dental patient have healthier breathing, sleeping and living. For more information, call 414-935-8460 or visit