Tongue-tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, is a condition characterized by a short lingual frenum, the web-like tissue beneath the tongue. This condition is often identified in infants due to limited tongue movement, which can affect breastfeeding, bottle-feeding, and pacifier use. These feeding difficulties can lead to weight loss in the infant, necessitating immediate surgical treatment.
Even when tongue-tie does not cause immediate problems, opting for surgical intervention can have long-term benefits for your child’s well-being. Gaining knowledge about the surgical correction options for this condition can assist you in making an informed decision regarding your child’s healthcare.
The surgical procedure for posterior tongue tie involves making a small incision in the lingual frenum to restore the full range of motion of the tongue. In most cases, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis without the need for general anesthesia. Laser surgery or electrocautery can also be options, using either local or general anesthesia.
Due to the small size of the lingual frenum, the treatment procedures are generally painless and cause minimal bleeding. The recovery period is typically short, lasting just a few days. If you choose to have tongue tie surgically treated, your child should be able to breastfeed or drink from a bottle normally within 24 hours.
If your child does not experience feeding difficulties due to tongue-tie, you may consider delaying treatment. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with delaying or denying treatment.
Without intervention, children with tongue-tie may have challenges in learning to speak properly within an age-appropriate timeline due to limited oral muscle control. Restricted tongue movement can also affect normal breathing patterns and potentially increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
In most cases, tongue-tie is primarily caused by limited tongue web tissue. However, in rare instances, involvement of the genioglossus muscle may be the main cause or a complicating factor. Simply snipping back the lingual frenum may not fully resolve the condition in these cases.
If muscle involvement is identified, your infant may require additional surgery in the future to release the restrictions while preserving muscle strength and coordination. Without this additional intervention, there is a risk of compromised speech clarity even after addressing the tongue tie. Therefore, it is important to have suspected tongue-tie evaluated so that you can make an informed decision about pursuing treatment for the sake of your child’s health.
If you have concerns about your child’s feeding difficulties related to tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with our clinic. Our team at Nia Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics is available to assess your child’s tongue movement abilities and overall health condition. By doing so, we can provide you with the necessary information and guidance to choose the best course of treatment. To schedule an appointment, please call us at (770) 479-9999.