Orem TMD Doctor

Tongue-Tie TreatmentOrem, UT

Tongue-tie treatment is a procedure to correct a congenital condition known as ankyloglossia, where a child’s tongue stays fixed to the bottom of the mouth. It occurs when the tissue (lingual frenulum) linking the floor of the mouth and tongue is shorter than usual. The stunted frenulum limits the tongue’s movement and has been linked to challenges with breastfeeding and speech.

As a tongue-tie doctor, we can help to treat the issue and ensure the patient continues to grow without limitations this issue can cause. To schedule an appointment at Neuvo Wellness or learn more, give us a call at 801-252-4813 today.

Request An Appointment

Understanding Tongue-Tie and The Causes

Tongue-tie can occur in anyone. In many situations, the condition is hereditary (passed from parents to offspring). The condition is most common with infants and younger children, but older children and adults are not exempt. The tongue and the floor of the mouth connect during embryo formation in the womb.

With time, they separate, eventually leaving only a thin sheet of the tissue (lingual frenulum) to join the bottom of the tongue and the floor of the mouth. As the child grows older, the lingual frenulum shrinks and gets thinner. Children who have tongue-tie have a thick frenulum that fails to recede, making it hard to move the tongue.

The Importance of Early Treatment

To fully latch onto the breast during feeding, children need to extend their tongue over the jawline. Tongue-tie makes this difficult, and the child will have to try using their gums to hold on to the nipple in their mouth while feeding. This can be uncomfortable. Such children will also have a problem with bottle feeding. When the child starts to eat solid foods with baby food, any meal that requires licking or slurping will pose a challenge.

It is hard to determine the real implication of tongue-tie on speech. Pronouncing lingual sounds require that one touches the roof of the mouth with the tongue. Since the tongue’s movement is limited, the tongue will not touch the mouth’s roof, causing pronunciation problems for the child as they grow older. Since a tongue-tie locks the tongue to the floor of the mouth, affected children are likely to develop a gap between their lower teeth as they grow older.

Tongue-Tie Symptoms

Symptoms of tongue-tie can be mild or severe. Sometimes, the condition is so mild that the symptoms do not inhibit daily life. However, tongue-tie treatment becomes necessary if it is affecting the child’s wellbeing. Some of the symptoms of tongue-tie include:

  • Breastfeeding for prolonged periods of time
  • Constant hunger
  • Difficulty adding weight
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Clicking noises during feeding
  • Difficulty with oral activities such as licking ice cream, playing a wind instrument, kissing or licking the lips
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Nursing mothers may notice symptoms like pain during nursing, insufficient milk supply and cracked sore nipples

Diagnosing tongue-tie

Tongue-tie diagnosis usually requires a physical examination. For infants, the oral surgeon may use a screening device to evaluate the outlook and movement range of the tongue. The most common indicator of tongue-tie, difficulty feeding, can have several other underlying effects.

The dentist might suspect a tongue-tie immediately if the child cannot gain weight easily or if the mother is having issues breastfeeding. A simple in-office observation is often enough to detect the condition.

Tongue-tie Treatment

Healthcare professionals recommend correcting the condition as soon as possible – possibly before the infant leaves the hospital. Others recommend waiting a while. The lingual frenulum may loosen gradually. In other cases, the condition may not be severe enough to cause problems. Children who have tongue-tie but do not have challenges with feeding, speaking, or swallowing may not require treatment.

As the child gets to age 4 or 5, their mouth’s shape starts to change significantly. At this stage, every symptom of the condition should begin to disappear, and the condition may resolve itself. Tongue-tie treatment is necessary if the lingual frenulum does not loosen over time.

If the tongue-tie causes issues for the infant or adult, surgical treatment may be necessary. The procedure could be a frenotomy or frenuloplasty.

Frenotomy

The oral surgeon may perform a surgical procedure called a frenotomy or frenectomy with or without anesthesia in the dental office. The dentist will check the lingula frenulum and use sterile scissors to cut the frenulum free. The procedure is fast and causes minimal discomfort because the lingula frenulum has few blood vessels or nerve endings.

Even if bleeding occurs, it will probably be one or two drops of blood. The baby can feed immediately after the procedure. Complications from the procedure are rare but may include infection, bleeding, scarring or injury to the tongue or saliva ducts.

Frenuloplasty

This is a more extensive treatment and might be suggested if secondary treatment is required or the lingual frenulum is too thick for a frenectomy. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia using surgical tools. After cutting the frenulum, the oral surgeon will close the wound with self-absorbing sutures.

Complications from the procedure are the same as frenotomy and are rare. After the procedure, the dental professional might recommend tongue exercises to improve tongue movement and minimize the risk of scarring.

Follow-Up Care

Tongue-tie treatment has a high success rate, but follow-up care is an important part of recovery success. Parents must watch out for complications if the baby refuses to feed or experiences a fever.

Oral wounds are likely to contract during healing. To guide healing, stretching the treated area can help. The stretches can make the child uncomfortable, so the dentist might recommend using a non-numbing teething gel or pain relievers. The hand must be cleaned properly before the stretches.

Contact Us

Tongue-tie is a common condition among newborn babies. It is sometimes symptomless, but the condition can make breastfeeding difficult and eventually lead to speech challenges. Our tongue-tie specialist and the team will help to customize the treatment.

Neuvo Wellness is located at
812 S. State St.
Orem, UT
84097

(801) 252-4813

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the tongue-tie treatment take?

The entire process, including consultation and treatment, typically lasts for about an hour. After preparation, the surgery itself takes up to three minutes; then, the mother will need to feed the child immediately.

Is the treatment painful?

The procedure causes minimal pain. The dentist will keep the child comfortable by applying analgesic gel or using pain relievers. The child will start feeling better soon afterward. We will go over the necessary follow-up care with the parent of the patient during the appointment.

Are any mouth exercises or stretches necessary after treatment?

Yes. Stretches prevent the treatment areas from healing together or joining, potentially leading to a worse case of tongue-tie. The stretches should be done for three to four weeks. We will go over these exercises during the appointment.

What are the risks of the procedure?

Every procedure has its risks, but for frenotomy, the risks are relatively mild. The risks, including scarring, infection, bleeding, discomfort, or numbness, are rare or uncommon. In most cases, we will take the necessary precautions to prevent the risks.

Is treatment important?

Not all cases of tongue-tie cause functional issues. The procedure is only necessary if functional problems, including difficulty with breastfeeding or abnormal breathing, are present. Parents need to visit the dentist if they suspect signs of tongue-tie in their children.