15 Mar What is Ankyloglossia (Tongue-Tie)
Ankyloglossia, commonly called “tongue-tie” is a condition where movement of the tongue is restricted. This occurs when the band of tissue (lingual frenulum) that tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth is unusually short, thick or tight. Tongue-tie commonly occurs in boys than girls and often runs in the family.
A parent or dentist may suspect tongue-tie when an infant/child has difficulty lifting or sticking their tongue out or moving it side to side. The child has trouble latching during breast or bottle feeding, and may gag, choke or vomit during feed. Untreated tongue-tie may not just affect a child’s nutrition but also their speech, oral hygiene, physical and social development.
Effects On Dental Health
- After a meal an individual runs their tongue along their teeth, palate and gums to quickly clean food debris in the mouth. A kid with tongue-tie has problems moving their tongue freely and thus clearing food from the teeth. The food remains lodged in the gaps and can cause gum problems, dental decay, bad breath and caries/cavities.
- Mouth breathing, an effect on tongue-tie, often dries the saliva making the mouth a breeding ground for decay-causing germs.
- Tongue-tie is also associated with a space between the two bottom front teeth. The teeth may either push together and grow crooked over time.
- Severe cases on tongue-tie can interfere with jaw development and cause it to be smaller than it should. This can affect facial aesthetics and jaw movements.
Effects On Overall Health
- An untreated case can cause the kid to breathe through their mouth instead of the nose. Snoring is the main indicator of this obstructive sleep apnea and often continues into adulthood.
- A child may have speech problems as the tongue does not move freely enough to make some sounds clearly, t, d, z, s, th, n, r, n and l.
- Difficulty chewing and/or gagging or choking on solid foods. The child may not gain weight as expected or may show signs of nutritional deficiencies.
- Daily activities like kissing or playing a flute or musical instrument may be somewhat challenging.
Treatment Options For Tongue Tie
If you suspect that your kid has tongue-tie let their doctor/dentist know. They may choose to wait and see if the tight lingual frenulum stretches on its own. In such case no treatment may be needed. If your baby is less than a year old and has trouble feeding, then they may need minor surgical correction of the frenulum. Frenotomy (also called frenulotomy) releases the frenulum so the tongue can move more freely. If the condition is detected in a toddler or an older child, the doctor/dentist/dental surgeon may perform a frenuloplasty where the tight band is clipped and the wound is closed with stitches. While these procedures are mostly safe, certain risks that can occur. These include severe bleeding, infection, injury to the salivary ducts, and worsening breathing. Tongue exercises and speech therapy before or after the procedure help immensely.
If you have questions or concerns and are in the Allen, Texas area, call 972-727-0011 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lisi or Dr. Alina at Kids Pediatric Dentistry.
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