What is a tongue tie?
Tongue tie (ankyloglossia) is a problem that is present at birth. It happens when the tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth (lingual frenum) is too short. This can limit the movement of the tongue.
What are the symptoms?
Many babies with tongue tie don’t have symptoms. The tissue either stretches as the child grows, or the child adapts to the tongue restriction. But some children with tongue tie have:
- Trouble latching on to the mother’s breast and sucking. (Bottle-fed babies usually don’t have feeding problems, because it is easy to get milk from the nipple of a bottle.)
- Gaps or spaces between the front lower teeth.
- Speech problems, because the tip of the tongue cannot rise high enough to make some sounds clearly, such as t, d, z, s, th, n, and l.
- Personal or social problems related to the restricted tongue movement, such as problems cleaning food off the teeth with the tongue. A child with tongue-tie may be made fun of by other children.
How is tongue-tie diagnosed?
Your dentist will do a physical examination of your child’s mouth and ask about his or her symptoms. In an older child or adult, the dentist may check the shape and movements of the tongue.
How is it treated?
If your baby is younger than 1 year of age and has problems with feeding, the dentist may do a medical procedure (frenotomy) to clip the lingual frenum. If your baby has tongue tie and is feeding okay, you may choose to wait and see if his or her lingual frenum stretches on its own.
While you wait and see, you can also:
- Talk to a lactation consultant if you are having breastfeeding problems.
- Consult a speech therapist if your toddler is having speech problems.
Some children don’t need treatment because they adapt to the way their tongue is or the problem gets better as they grow.
- If you’d like to make a consultation appontment with our specialist Oral Surgeon, Dr Frank Dingiria, give us a call on 01 8401001.