Tongue-tie is a birth defect that occurs when the strip of skin (lingual frenulum) connecting a baby’s tongue to the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual. Typically, this strip of skin separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range of motion. With tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue.
Tongue-tie is a very common condition that, if addressed quickly, will not hinder a child’s development. However, if left untreated, tongue-tie can result in malnourishment, speech difficulty, or poor oral hygiene.
Signs of tongue-tie include:
- Restriction of the tongue’s movement, making it harder to breastfeed
- Difficulty lifting the tongue up or moving it from side to side
- Difficulty sticking the tongue out
- The tongue looks notched or heart-shaped when stuck out
Treatment of Tongue-Tie
The treatment of tongue-tie for infants is a simple surgical procedure called a frenotomy. Your child’s doctor examines the lingual frenulum and then uses a special laser to snip the frenulum free. Stitches are usually not necessary. Since there are few nerve endings or blood vessels in the lingual frenulum, only a local anesthetic is used.
Frenotomy for tongue-tie in older children and adults is similar to that for infants, although it is usually done under general anesthesia and may involve stitches. Speech therapy may also be necessary.