Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ankyloglossia - Day 5

Dear Readers,

I have been severely tongue tied.... since birth.

Ankyloglossia - "A condition that restricts the tongue's range of motion," also known as tongue-tie,  "is a congenital oral anomaly that may decrease mobility of the tongue tip and is caused by an unusually short, thick lingual frenulum, a membrane connecting the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth." 

On Monday, November 30th, at 4 pm I had a procedure to "un-tie" my tongue. It was a liberation! The glamorous and stead-handed Dr. Linda Dahl performed the "untying."

In April of this year Dr. Dahl diagnosed me with ankyloglossia. For my close friends this came at no surprise. I have spent years sharing the struggles of having a severe under-bite and a short tongue. Personal anecdote: for those of you who were present in the summer of 2014 at Opera Theatre Pittsburgh's master class with Marianne Cornetti I even publicly announce how short and fat my tongue really was.

There is an axiom, supposedly Persian in origin, that says "Whatever is in the heart will come up to the tongue." If we accept this premise, then maybe we can - by a rule of logic - also accept that as the tongue is freed, it will be free to express what is in the heart.

After discussing the procedure with other singers, teachers, and months of research I came to the conclusion that I should have it done. The surgery might, as an ancillary benefit, proved great freedom at the base of my tongue and in vocal production. The primary benefit is in the mobility of my tongue to articulate consonants and vowels clearly and easily. Language, and by extension singing, can be logically reduced to the function of three interrelated mechanisms: breath, phonation, articulation. Assuming that I do my rehabilitative stretched to prevent the frenulum from re-growing then I should have added if not maximum mobility of my articulators (tongue, teeth, lips and mandible - though I do still have my malocclusion a.k.a under-bite).

For the weak stomached readers I suggest you not look away.
Below please see before and after photos:


Immediately After:

3 days after surgery:

I haven't sung yet since the surgery.
Once the majority of the pain has subsided and I am off the pain killers I will start slowly working my voice back, because I've been dormant for 10 days.

Thanks for reading,
All the best


  1. Feel better Joe! Be looking for something in the mail by the end of the week. :)

  2. Amazing Joe! I'm so happy for you. Much love! Liz