Tongue Tied – Ankyloglossia

Tongue Tied

Tongue Tied or Ankyloglossia is when a person has a short lingual frenum (membrane connecting under side of tongue to the floor of mouth) that prevents full range movement of the tongue.

Being tongue tied can cause problems with breast feeding, speech development, eating, and swallowing. It can also prevent good hygiene since the tongue plays an important role in sweeping food and debris from the teeth. The tongue is one of the most important muscles for speech and swallowing.

Diagnosis can usually be done at a routine visit to our dental office. Early detection is best; therefore, we recommend, with the ADA, that children be seen on their first birthday.

The following characteristics are common on a person who is tongue tied: v-shaped notch at tip of tongue, inability to stick out the tongue past the upper gums, and inability to touch the roof of the mouth.

An infant being tongue tied can often lead to frustration when breast feeding because the infant is unable to latch on or may cause nursing mother significant pain.

Not all patients who have ankyloglossia need to have treatment. This all depends on how decreased the movement of the tongue is. If treatment is needed, our standard of care is to remove the membrane to allow the tongue to move freely. The procedure is called a frenulectomy.

This is a simple procedure that can be done by using a laser after a topical anesthetic is placed. The procedure takes less than a few minutes to complete and does not need any stitching. Some offices perform this with a scalpel which would then need stitching. Often this procedure is also done by just “clipping” the membrane which can eventually grow back, this is why our standard is removal. This procedure can be done as early as newborn through adulthood.

If left untreated, adult patients may find that they snore because of this. When the tongue does not have free motion it may block the patients airway.

Having a frenulectomy done is normally a simple procedure with rarely any complications. If as a child or an adult, you or your child has any of the above symptoms, this simple procedure should be considered, it has many long term benefits.

Benefits include restoring ease of speech, better nutrition, and self esteem.