A tongue-tie—or its medical name, ankyloglossia—is a condition present at birth that inhibits your child’s ability to move their tongue in an ideal manner for proper function. In everyone’s mouth, they have a thin and short piece of stretchy tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of your mouth. In infants with a tongue-tie, this piece of tissue is abnormally thick and/or tight, restricting the movement of the tongue. It can cause very serious problems or no noticeable issues at all.
Symptoms of a tongue-tie in babies include:
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Inability to move the tongue up and down, or side to side
- Baby is unable to stick out their tongue
- Tongue presents an odd or unusual shape
- Impaired speech, or difficulty pronouncing words
Causes and Risk Factors
A tongue-tie is a condition present from birth, and in some cases, children with cleft palate, or cleft lip also experience symptoms of tongue-tie. There are no definite risk factors, though cases appear more in boys than girls, and the condition is thought to potentially be genetic.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your healthcare provider will be able to diagnose a tongue-tie by physically examining the movement of your child’s tongue. Depending on the degree, your child may have more than one treatment option. In mild cases your pediatrician may wait to see if the tissue under the tongue (frenulum) will grow backwards, solving the problem on its own.
If this doesn’t happen, your doctor may book a tongue-tie surgery to cut the frenulum and release your child’s tongue. There is an alternative to a scissor or scalpel release though: laser frenectomy.
What is Laser Frenectomy?
Laser frenectomy is the removal, or disconnecting of your child’s frenulum. This procedure is quick and predictable. Recovery from laser tongue-tie treatment is relatively simple. You will be asked to keep the area clean and perform stretches regularly to keep the tissues mobile. For more information on treatment, call Durham Tongue Tie Laser Clinic.
If not treated…
If a tongue-tie is left untreated, your child may experience issues regarding speech, oral health, and/or difficulty eating. As far as speech goes, phonetically, they may not be able to pronounce certain sounds at all. Oral health-wise, they will have problems keeping their mouth clean, seeing as they cannot move their tongue and reach all areas in the mouth. Finally, when it comes to eating, swallowing might pose issues your child will have to overcome.