Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion.
With tongue-tie, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. A person who has tongue-tie might have difficulty sticking out his or her tongue. Tongue-tie can also affect the way a child eats, speaks and swallows, as well as interfere with breastfeeding.
Sometimes tongue-tie may not cause problems. Some cases may require a simple surgical procedure for correction.
The consequences of an untreated tongue tie can be many and varied, depending largely on the age of the subject and the severity of the condition. The demands made on us increase as we grow older, and our environment becomes less forgiving of mistakes. Delay in treatment, therefore, can have negative consequences.
Lip ties are similar, and restrict the movement of the upper lip. This restriction can impede the upper lip from folding out, preventing a proper latch.
Inability to breastfeed successfully in the presence of a lip/tongue tie can cause a variety of challenges for the infant, the mother and the family.
For the baby, these may include:
- Impact on milk supply
- Termination of breastfeeding
- The baby failing to thrive
- Poor bonding between baby and mother
- Sleep deprivation
- Problems with introducing solids
The maternal experience of breastfeeding a tongue-tied baby may include:
- Nipple damage, bleeding, blanching or distortion of the nipples
- Mastitis, nipple thrush or blocked ducts
- Severe pain with latch or losing latch
- Sleep deprivation caused by the baby being unsettled
- Depression or a sense of failure
Children with a tongue tie have to contend with difficulties which may only be discovered as they grow older.
These can include:
- Inability to chew age appropriate solid foods
- Gagging, choking or vomiting foods
- Persisting food fads
- Difficulties related to dental hygiene
- Persistence of dribbling
- Delayed development of speech
- Deterioration in speech
- Behavior problems
- Dental problems starting to appear
- Loss of self confidence because they feel and sound ‘different’
- Strong, incorrect habits of compensation being acquired
At Epic Dentistry for Kids, we use a state of the art diode laser to release these connections. Laser treatment provides many advantages over surgical treatment with a blade, including reduced or no bleeding, the ability to treat without a sharp object near delicate tissues, reduced risks of infection due to the antibacterial effect of the laser, reducing healing times and reduced scarring.
Correction only takes a matter of minutes and parents are always welcome in the treatment room during treatment. If your child has swallowing or speech difficulties, we may recommend evaluation with a qualified speech or myofunctional therapist prior to treatment.