Tongue-tie or ankyloglossia is a condition present from birth in which a tight band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This band of tissue is called the lingual frenulum, and it normally separates before birth. Tongue-tie occurs when the lingual frenulum fails to separate and can cause problems with breastfeeding, swallowing, and speaking. Tongue-tie may not always cause problems in infants. When it does, it can usually be corrected by a simple surgical procedure.
Symptoms of Tongue-Tie
Some of the symptoms of tongue-tie include the inability to tongue the upper part of the mouth or stick the tongue out past the front teeth. The tongue might also look heart-shaped or appear notched when it is stuck out. Tongue-tie may not cause any serious issues, but you should see a doctor if your baby is having trouble breastfeeding or if a speech pathologist suggests that your child’s tongue-tie will interfere with their ability to speak. You should also bring your child to a doctor if they are older and complaining about symptoms of tongue-tie.
Treatment for Tongue-Tie
There is some disagreement over how tongue-tie should be treated. Some doctors recommend that all tongue-tied babies be treated shortly after birth before they leave the hospital, while others prefer to take a wait-and-see approach. When treatment is deemed necessary, minor surgery is the most effective. Minor cases can be treated with a frenotomy. This procedure involves cutting the lingual frenulum with sterile scissors. It is performed without anesthesia, but pain and bleeding are minimal since there is little blood and few nerve endings in the lingual frenulum. If the lingual frenulum is too thick for a frenotomy, a frenuloplasty may be in order. This is performed under general anesthesia and requires sutures that are absorbed by the body as the tongue heals. Tongue-tie is usually a fairly minor condition that can be treated easily. Although it is often treated shortly after birth, many doctors still wait to see if there will be any serious complications. If you have a child that you suspect has tongue-tie, don’t hesitate to speak to us at WFMC Health to find out if treatment is necessary.