Purpose: Alterations of the lingual frenulum may contribute to oromyofacial dysfunction, speech and swallowing impediments, underdevelopment of the maxillofacial skeleton, and even predispose to sleep breathing disorder. This study aims to assess the utility of existing instruments for evaluation of restricted tongue mobility, describe normal and abnormal ranges of tongue mobility, and provide evidence in support of a reliable and efficient measure of tongue mobility.
Methods: A prospective cohort study of 1052 consecutive patients was evaluated during a 3-month period. Age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, BMI, maximal interincisal mouth opening (MIO), mouth opening with tongue tip to maxillary incisive papillae at roof of mouth (MOTTIP), Kotlow's free-tongue measurement, and presence of severe tongue-tie were recorded. Secondary outcome measures include tongue range of motion deficit (TRMD, difference between MIO and MOTTIP) and tongue range of motion ratio (TRMR, ratio of MOTTIP to MIO).
Results: Results indicate that MIO is dependent on age and height; MOTTIP and TRMD are dependent on MIO; Kotlow's free-tongue measurement is an independent measure of free-tongue length and tongue mobility. TRMR is the only independent measurement of tongue mobility that is directly associated with restrictions in tongue function.
Conclusions: We propose the use of tongue range of motion ratio as an initial screening tool to assess for restrictions in tongue mobility. "Functional" ankyloglossia can thus be defined and treatment effects followed objectively by using the proposed grading scale: grade 1: tongue range of motion ratio is >80%, grade 2 50-80%, grade 3 < 50%, grade 4 < 25%.
Keywords: Ankyloglossia; Classification of ankyloglossia; Frenulum; Oromyofacial dysfunction; Tongue tie; Tongue tie grading scale.