Reflections on learning I have an annoying congenital disorder at 27.

Last updated on June 10, 2020. Created on November 10, 2019.

Recently, during a routine checkup with a new dentist, he asked me, "Did you know you have tongue-tie?"

I wasn't sure if I heard him right—I've had numerous dentists throughout my life and not a single one of them ever asked me that.

"Uh, what?"

He dramatically stopped thrusting the cucumber-shaped LED cleaning thingy into my mouth.

"It's also known as ankyloglossia," he said, "it's associated with—"

"—Oh my God, am I dying?"

"NO, how many times are you going to ask me that? You're not dying, Reese. You just have an abnormally short frenulum connecting the floor of your mouth and tongue."

Immediately I whipped out my phone to look up "frenulum" on Google Images, but my dentist screamed "NOOOOOO," slapping me across the face in slow motion before I could press the enter button.

Okay, that last part was a lie, but the point is, there are other parts of your body with these so-called frenulums, and you may not be prepared to see them.


Photo via Wikimedia Commons. 20th Century Fox.
Can you spy a frenulum on this xenomorph?

"Like, is this a big deal?" I articulately asked.

"For adults with tongue-tie, probably not, it's really more of an inconvenience than anything. For children, it can greatly impact eating and speech."

"Well, that explains a lot." I said. "I needed speech therapy when I was a kid."

That explained a lot, seeing as I needed speech therapy as a child. Speaking has always been effortful for me, like tongue gymnastics, otherwise my words are slurred. As a result of that and other issues, the dentist informed me that most children today have their frenulum cut if it's too short. As a 27-year-old adult, I don't think I require the same remedy, although I wonder what the systemic impact of ankyloglossia could have had on me in my youth.

© Reese Schultz

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