“I was told that my child is ‘tongue-tied.’ What does that mean and what is the best way to treat it?” This question is an increasingly common one asked in our clinic, as the medical community grows increasingly aware of the problems associated with ankyloglossia, commonly known as tongue-tied.
This condition involves the cord of tissue, known as a frenulum, that runs from the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. While everyone has a frenulum, sometimes the frenulum is tight and restricts proper movement of the tongue. The tongue plays a critical role in feeding and in speech. If your child’s frenulum is tight, then he or she may have difficulty feeding. In toddlers and older children, it can create speech issues and problems with articulation.
Common characteristics of a tongue-tie include:
- Inability to stick out the tongue past the upper gums or touch the roof of the mouth
- Difficulty in moving the tongue from side-to-side, forward-and-back, or up-and-down
- A V-shaped notch at the tip of the tongue
- Trouble with licking or sucking
While the impact of a tight frenulum can be significant, the treatment options are fairly simple. As soon as tongue-tie symptoms are noticed, even as early as birth, a simple surgical procedure can be performed to correct it. This procedure involves cutting across part of the frenulum to free up mobility of the tongue. This is known as a frenotomy, and uses local anesthesia but not general anesthesia.
Sometimes, tongue-tie issues are not noticed until later in life when speech starts to develop around age two to three. Such issues may be identified at school, and can be treated in a similar manner. At times, speech therapy may be helpful after the procedure to optimize speech and articulation.
We can discuss with you the best time to plan for your child’s procedure. Wellspring Craniofacial Group is the preferred provider for NICU’s and Labor & Delivery centers across Central Texas, and we are happy to share our experience with you in order to help you determine the best plan for your child.
American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (http://www.entnet.org/)