What is a Tongue Tie?
Tongue ties prevent the tongue from being able to have the full range of motion that they ought to. A loose frenum allows the tongue to move further upwards or out of the mouth. If a person has restricted tongue movement, a tongue tie is likely to blame.
The lingual frenum is the strip of skin just under your tongue. It attaches somewhere towards the middle-to-anterior belly of the tongue (hence the name “lingual”) to the floor of the mouth.
Lingual frenums vary from person to person. In some cases, they can be extremely short. When such is the case, a “tongue tie” exists.
Limiting Nursing/Feeding Abilities
Generally speaking, tongue ties are often observed when newborn babies are only a few days old. This occurrence is due to problems nursing or sucking on a bottle. The baby may seem irritable, spit up frequently, need to eat more often, or appear colicky.
A lactation consultant, pediatrician, or pediatric dentist are usually the first professionals to confirm whether your newborn’s lingual frenum is the cause of their feeding woes.
Tongue Tie Impairs Natural Speech Patterns
Tight skin under the tongue can alter speech patterns. When a person is unable to move their tongue freely to form various shapes, their language skills are directly impacted.
If your child has an undiagnosed tie, it will likely become more evident as they age and develop better language skills. An apparent speech impediment should always take tongue anatomy into consideration as part of the speech therapy plan.
Seeing a dentist regularly and making them aware of your language development concerns offers a prime opportunity for tongue tie screenings.
Possible Clefting Concerns
Severe tongue ties can pull on the tip of the tongue so much, that it begins to cleft at the end. Clefting looks like a visible cut or fork at the tip of the tongue.
Most tongue clefts only occur in instances of severely tight lingual frenums.
Ways to Fix a Tongue Tie
To fix a tongue tie, the tight frenum needs to be released. A portion of the skin is removed, leaving a looser and thinner frenum behind.
Traditional frenectomies are where a tongue tie is “clipped” or essentially trimmed back with a small tool. Local anesthetic to numb the area may or may not be needed, depending on the age of the patient. This method is very straightforward and still used today.
Laser frenectomies are an alternative to conventional treatment and typically more comfortable to the patient. Using a soft tissue laser, the tissue is released while the outermost layer of skin is gently cauterized. This process significantly reduces swelling, eliminates bleeding, and greatly improves post-operative discomfort.
Do you or your child potentially have a tongue tie that needs to be corrected? Visit a Kois Center dentist near you for a short consultation.