Tongue Tie Dentistry
About 5 to 10 percent of babies in the US are born with a condition called tongue-tie (ankyloglossia), which is characterized by a shorter lingual frenulum (fold of skin under the tongue connecting to the bottom of the mouth). This condition restricts the proper movement of the tongue, and may range in severity depending on how far the lingual frenulum extends.
- Severe ankyloglossia – the tongue-tie extends to the tip of the tongue
- Moderate ankyloglossia – the tongue-tie extends halfway under the tongue or just underneath
- Posterior ankyloglossia – the tongue-tie is at the back of the tongue
When to consider treatment of tongue-tie condition
If your baby has tongue-ties, you may experience some difficulties when breastfeeding, such as sore nipples or trouble with “latching on” (getting your baby in the right feeding position). Poor feeding may affect your baby’s ability to gain weight at a normal rate.
Over time, tongue-tie may cause other challenges such as:
- Inability to chew solid foods
- Persistence of dribbling
- Gagging and choking
- Increased risk of tooth decay
- Improper pronunciation of some words
- Difficulty playing wind instruments
- Inability to stick the tongue out, such as licking ice-cream
Diagnosis and treatment of Ankyloglossia
The dentist will diagnose tongue-tie by visually inspecting the underside of your baby’s tongue, and discussing with you about any symptoms you may have noticed, such as difficulty sticking out the tongue beyond the front teeth, lifting it to the upper teeth, or moving it side to side.
Tongue-tie can be successfully treated with a minor operation. For babies under 3 months old, the procedure is performed using a local anesthetic gel, but without using any general anesthesia, which is only recommended for use with babies over 3 months old and children. A special instrument is then used to cut the short fold of skin under the tongue as needed.
Seek treatment today
The procedure only takes a few minutes, and you can breastfeed your baby right after to soothe him/her. Please consult with your dentist if you think that your baby may need a tongue-tie operation.