Tongue-tie 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 strip of skin separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range of motion. With tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue. It occurs in approximately 5% of the population.
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, difficulty feeding or breastfeeding, and speech difficulty.
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 frenotomy. Dr. Shelton will examine the lingual and buccal frenulum. If a frenotomy is necessary, a laser is used to perform the procedure. By using the laser you child will have faster healing times, less post-operative bleeding and no need for stitches.
Frenotomy for tongue-tie in older children is similar to that for infants, and can also be done using the laser. Speech therapy may also be necessary if the frenotomy was performed due to speech issues.
In our office, we utilize the Light Scalpel CO2 laser for frenectomy procedures. Use of the Light Scalpel CO2 laser allows for less bleeding, less swelling and less discomfort post-operatively.
We recommend performing the procedures in conjunction with other therapy. For our infants, we recommend follow up with lactation consultant (or chiropracter in many instances). For our older children, we recommend follow up with a speech language pathologist or myofunctional therapist.
After a frenectomy procedure, we have a list of exercises to perform post-operatively and will review them with you prior to leaving the office. We also recommend at least one follow up to allow us to help you with stretches, exercises, and to evaluate healing.