Tongue-tie is a condition in which the tongue is attached by the lingual frenulum tissue to the floor of the mouth. This condition, also known as ankyloglossia, restricts the mobility of the tongue fairly or to a large degree depending on the degree of the frenulum’s thickness and shortness. Tongue-tie is a congenital condition, which means that a child is born with it.
Everyone’s tongue is connected by the lingual frenulum to the floor of the mouth, but in the case of tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum is shorter and thicker than it should be. At the embryonic development stage, the tongue and floor of the mouth are attached and should separate over time. As a child grows in the womb, the lingual frenulum is expected to thin. But in children with tongue-tie, it remains thick causing restricted mobility.
Effects of Tongue-Tie
The restricted mobility of the tongue prevents the tongue from latching onto the nipple during breastfeeding, which makes it difficult for the infant to get milk from the nipple. As a result of this, the infant will bite the nipple in order to hold on to it. This, in turn, causes malnutrition, leading to poor weight gain in the child.
Other tongue-tie effects include speech difficulty as the affected child will have difficulty producing certain sounds, inability to clear food debris from the teeth, inability to stick out tongue, difficulty eating and swallowing. Seemingly simple activities like licking ice cream from a cone will be impossible because the tongue cannot stick out.
Prevalence of Tongue-Tie
Tongue-tie is prevalent among infants and children, and the degree of occurrence is currently pegged at up to 10% of children. It is also present in adults and, of course, could have a significant effect on their daily life.
Symptoms of Tongue-tie
In infants, the symptoms of tongue-tie are easy to miss because they are things we can dismiss as normal or attribute as the offshoot of an entirely different problem. For instance, malnutrition in a child can be a result of a thousand other things. Speech difficulty can also be a neuro-related problem.
The implication is that the child will have to go through several specialists before arriving at the root of the matter. An adult who has grown with it might have also grown used to the difficulty tongue-tie presents and not think much of it.
However, if you or your child is experiencing one of the following, then it is a case of tongue-tie.
- Difficulty sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
- Difficulty moving the tongue sideways and to the upper front teeth
- Tongue appears heart-shaped or notched when stuck out
- Speech impairment – difficulty producing sounds like t, d,z, th, r, n, and l
- Painful breastfeeding – the nipple is sore or flattened after breastfeeding
- Malnutrition in infants – the baby is not gaining weight
By the time a child is born, the lingual frenulum is expected to have moved back and detached from the tongue’s tip before birth. When this doesn’t happen, the child will be born with tongue-tie. Tongue-tie also occurs when the frenulum is too short and too thick. What causes this continued attachment to the tongue remains largely unknown.
Anyone can be born with tongue-tie. However, it is more common among boys than girls. It has also been discovered to reoccur in families.
Some physicians are opposed to immediate treatment for tongue-tie in infants because the lingual frenulum might loosen with time, and the patient can live without complications. Some physicians, on the other hand, believe treatment should commence immediately. This has led to a bit of controversy about the standard step to take after a diagnosis.
Some patients have tongue-tie, but with no noticeable symptoms or actual complications in speech and feeding, such patients have no need for treatment.
The treatment for tongue-tie in Seminole, FL can be broadly categorized into management and surgical. The severity of the tongue-tie plays a major role in the type of treatment adopted. In some cases, a combination of treatment options can be used.
The management approach of treatment includes speech therapy, oral motor therapy, craniosacral therapy, and lactation intervention.
The surgical approaches are:
This is a simple procedure that involves cutting the lingual frenulum to release the tongue. It is also called a Frenotomy. This procedure usually takes just a few minutes and can be performed without anesthesia. The result is immediate as the baby can begin to feed normally after the procedure. It is thereafter accompanied by 3-4 weeks of physically stretching the tissue that was cut to ensure that it does not regrow tightly.
This procedure is usually for more severe cases in which the lingual frenulum is too thick and plastic surgery of the frenulum is required. Anesthesia is required for this procedure.
The complications for both procedures are quite similar. They include bleeding, infection, scarring, injury to the tongue and salivary glands. Scarring could occur as a side effect of the anesthesia used for frenuloplasty procedures. However, both surgical procedures are generally considered safe.
Luce Tooth Pediatric Dentistry offers tongue-tie treatment in Seminole, FL. We offer a warm and caring environment for your child and a decade of experience helping children with tongue-tie and other pediatric dental issues.