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What is tongue tie in infants?

Tongue-tie is a condition that can restrict the movement of the tongue and cause a number of issues.

Also known as ankyloglossia, tongue-tie is a condition that occurs when the frenulum is too short or thick. The frenulum is a piece of tissue that is located at the floor of the mouth and extends to the bottom of the tongue. When this band of tissue is particularly short or thick, the movement of the tongue may be restricted. The condition is congenital, and presents in a number of different ways, depending on where the tie attaches to the tongue. Read on to find out what the signs of a tongue-tie are, and what you can do to resolve the issue…

What are the symptoms of tongue-tie?

If your baby has a tongue-tie, you might notice that the tip of their tongue appears to be heart-shaped. You may also notice that the tongue cannot extend beyond the edge of the lower lip or to the roof of the mouth.

Other possible signs of a tongue-tie in a baby include difficulty with breastfeeding, a clicking sound whilst breastfeeding, low milk supply, and nipple pain when breastfeeding. Your child may also struggle to keep fluids in their mouth when drinking from a bottle. Digestion issues and insufficient weight gain are also possible signs of a tongue-tie.

Why should the issue be addressed?

If your baby has a tongue-tie, they may have real difficulty feeding. This in turn can lead to problems related to their growth and development. Besides a lack of nutrition, difficulty with breastfeeding can also cause a reduced supply of breastmilk.

If left untreated, tongue-tie can also lead to issues with speech development. This occurs because the movement of the tongue is restricted, which makes it difficult to pronounce certain sounds.

Tongue-tie can also affect a child’s oral hygiene as the issue tends to make it more difficult to clean the mouth thoroughly. When food particles and bacteria are left to accumulate in the mouth, the risk of oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease increase.

How can it be treated?

If your paediatrician, lactation consultant or dentist diagnoses a tongue-tie in your baby, they may recommend a procedure known as a frenectomy. The procedure is performed in order to release the lingual frenulum. Traditionally, the tissue was cut with scissors, but thanks to advancements in the field of modern dentistry, a laser can now be used. A laser makes a clean cut and generally results in much less bleeding. As such, the procedure is quick and effective, and does not cause any considerable pain. Laser treatment of tongue-ties also reduces the risk of swelling and inflammation after treatment, and improves soft tissue healing when compared with traditional methods. It is, however, likely that your child will experience some discomfort for a few days following the procedure. Pain relief may be provided to babies over the age of four weeks old, but this can be discussed in detail with your healthcare practitioner.

How can we help?

At Kitchener Street Dental, we offer treatments for tongue-tie in infants, toddlers and children. If you are concerned about your child, we encourage you to bring them in for a consultation. We will perform a thorough examination of your little one’s mouth and let you know what the best course of action is, depending on their needs. In many cases, laser frenectomy is an effective and quick solution to the issue and the process can be completed at our dental practice in just one visit.

If you would like to find out more about tongue-ties and how we can help resolve them, please have a look here.

If you would like to arrange a consultation, please give us a call on 07 3184 8462 or get in touch with us here.  We love treating patients of all ages, and look forward to welcoming you to our practice.

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