Recent studies have shown that a short lingual frenulum is a potential risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in children. A short frenulum leads to abnormal orofacial development and may consequently contribute to sleep-disordered breathing by narrowing the upper airways and increasing the risk of upper-airway collapsibility. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of a short lingual frenulum on the risk of OSAS in children.
Children from pre-, primary, secondary, and high school, aged 3-17 years, were included in the study. Parents/guardians were asked to fill in the Pediatric Sleep Questionnaire (PSQ), and then, children at risk of OSAS were enrolled in the study group. A control group was established randomly from patients with negative PSQ results. A physical examination, including measurements of head-forward posture (HFP) and length of the free tongue, inter-incisor distance and subjective high-arched palate evaluation was performed in children from both groups.
A total of 1,500 PSQ questionnaires were distributed, and less than half (713) were returned correctly filled in. In the second part of the study, 135 children were evaluated: 67 in the study group and 68 in the control group. The mean ages were 9.4 ± 3.0 and 9.5 ± 3.1 years, respectively. Children in the study group had significantly shorter lingual frenula, higher HFP measures, and had a higher prevalence of a high-arched palate. Based on statistical analysis, a short lingual frenulum (OR 5.02 [1.58-15.94]).
The study identified a relationship between a short lingual frenulum and the risk of OSAS in children. Detecting and addressing ankyloglossia in children is necessary before it leads to orofacial changes, malocclusion, and consequently, sleep apnea. Furthermore, OSAS was associated with higher HFP, but no relationship was found between the two parameters.

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