Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a birth defect that occurs when the strip of skin (lingual frenulum) connecting a baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual. Typically, this tethered oral tissue (TOT) separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range of motion. With tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue.

Tongue-tie is a very common condition that, if addressed quickly, will not hinder a child’s development. However, if left untreated, tongue-tie can result in malnourishment, speech difficulty, malocclusion, airway obstruction or poor oral hygiene.

Signs of tongue-tie include:

  • Restriction of the tongue’s movement, making it harder to breastfeed
  • Difficulty lifting the tongue up or moving it from side to side
  • Difficulty sticking the tongue out
  • The tongue looks notched or heart-shaped when stuck out

Treatment of Tongue-Tie

The treatment of tongue-tie for infants is a simple surgical procedure called a frenectomy. Your child’s doctor examines the lingual frenulum and then uses a dental laser to snip the frenulum free. Stitches are usually not necessary. Local anesthetic may be used.

Frenectomy for tongue-tie in older children and adults is similar to that for infants. Speech therapy may also be necessary.

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