Most people associate being tongue-tied with stumbling over their words. But you may be surprised to learn that “tongue-tie” is actually a legitimate oral health problem called ankyloglossia that affects the tongue’s range of motion. It’s present in 4%-11% of newborn babies, more often boys than girls, and can impact a child in significant ways. However, a pediatric dentist in Tappan looks at every aspect of a child’s oral health at each checkup so they can identify issues like tongue-tie early on and recommend treatment as needed. And, fortunately, tongue-tie can be treated quite easily! Keep reading to learn more below.
What Is Tongue-Tie and What Are the Signs?
Everyone has something called a frenulum, a band or strip of soft tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. However, with tongue-tie, this tissue is particularly short or tight and restricts the movement of the tongue.
There are several signs you can look for, including trouble moving the tongue up to the top teeth, from side to side, or sticking it out past the lower front teeth. You may also notice that the tongue appears heart-shaped or notched when it’s stuck out.
What Problems Can Tongue-Tie Cause?
There are several potentially serious problems that can occur with tongue-tie such as:
- Babies can have breastfeeding issues such as trouble latching on or completing a full feeding, or not gaining weight as quickly as they should
- Speech impediments or language delays
- Difficulty eating
- Trouble swallowing
What Treatment Options Are Available?
If you suspect your child may have tongue-tie, the first step is so to schedule a checkup with a children’s dentist in Tappan. In some cases, tongue-tie will resolve on its own as the frenulum loosens over time. In other cases, treatment may be recommended.
Thankfully, treatment is quite simple. Called a frenotomy, this small surgical procedure involves using sterile scissors to “snip” the frenulum and allow the tongue to move freely.
It’s very quick and causes little or no discomfort because there are very few nerve endings in the frenulum. It can be done with or without numbing the area. In fact, some infants or small children even sleep through their procedure.
Tongue-tie can have negative consequences, but identifying and treating it is so simple that they easily prevented altogether.
About the Author
Dr. Darren Tong is a pediatric dentist in Tappan who graduated in the top 10% of his class from Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery. He encourages regular checkups starting around age one so he can evaluate every aspect of his patients’ oral health, including checking for tongue-tie. If you think your child may be tongue-tied or you have any questions, he can be reached through his website.