May 19, 2022

The Impact and Importance of Tongue-Tie Release

A tongue-tie may seem like a small problem, but this simple string of tissue can make a big impact on your child’s health. While they aren’t usually life-threatening, a tongue-tie can cause a surprising number of unnecessary challenges in your child’s life.

What is a tongue-tie?

A tongue-tie is an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue (the lingual frenulum) present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion and tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth.

All infants are born with some of this tissue, but approximately 5% of newborns have a tie that severely restricts their tongue’s movement. If not identified in infancy or childhood, problems caused by a tongue-tie can persist well into adulthood, causing speech challenges, poor sleep, and head, neck, and shoulder pain.

Signs that your child has a tongue-tie

Tongue-ties can be present both in infants and older children, when missed earlier in life, but the signs of a tongue-tie differ between age groups. For infants, some of the most common symptoms of a tongue-tie include struggling to nurse or take a bottle, leaking milk from their mouth while eating, reflux, colic, slow weight gain, and making smacking or clicking noises while eating.

If your child is unable to touch the roof of the mouth with their tongue when opening widely, is struggling with speech delay, has speech issues that aren’t resolving by themselves, or hasn’t been getting a good night’s sleep, they may have a tongue-tie that was missed during earlier examinations. Other signs of a tongue-tie include slow eating, choking or gagging on foods and liquids, grinding teeth at night, snoring, or sleeping with their mouth open.

How is a tongue-tie diagnosed?

A tongue-tie is present when the tongue’s movement is restricted and mobility is impaired, and to diagnose a tongue-tie, thorough examination is required. It is important to note that not all ties require correction! Each case needs to be evaluated by an expert practitioner on a case-by-case basis. Because tongue-ties are diagnosed by examining their function, what a baby’s tongue looks like can sometimes be less important than how it can move.

What does the tongue-tie release procedure entail?

Tongue-tie releases (or revisions) are also called frenectomies, and during this procedure the excess tissue or tight frenulum under the tongue is removed. Our doctors use a state-of-the-art laser for a quick, safe procedure that allows for greater tongue and lip mobility. In many instances, this procedure can also aid in prevention of other health problems like dental decay, speech challenges, and even digestive issues.

When performed with a laser, this procedure has very little recovery time, and leads to the complete removal of the tie, minimal discomfort, little to no bleeding during and after the procedure, faster healing, and increased precision.

While this procedure is a quick one, it’s also important to remember that when your child’s tongue- or lip-tie is released, improvement isn’t always instantaneous, and the initial procedure is often just the first step in treatment. This is because the tongue is like any other muscle, and when restricted by a tongue­-tie, other muscles need to help compensate. Because of this, your child will need to learn how to use their tongue effectively for the first time, and it will take some time to master this new skill.

Tongue-tie releases at Peak Dental Health

If you think your child may have a tongue tie, we’re here to help! Contact us today to set up an appointment. We’d be happy to hear from you!