Ankyloglossia, better known as tongue-tie, is a condition that limits the tongue’s range of motion. It happens when the lingual frenulum (the band of tissue between the bottom of your tongue and the floor of your mouth) is too tight, short, or thick. The lingual frenulum is an important part of your mouth. It helps keep your tongue in place and stops you from swallowing it. However, when it develops abnormally, it can cause complications.
One of the major complications of tongue-tie is that it can cause problems with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding requires the ability to keep the tongue over the lower gum. If a baby is unable to do so, he or she will chew instead of suck on the nipple. This can be painful for the mother while also leading to malnutrition in the baby.
Other complications include difficulty with speech (especially with these letters and sounds: “a,” “d,” “z,” “t,” “i,” “r,” and “th”), and poor hygiene. A tighter frenulum may make it difficult for one to brush properly, contributing to gingivitis and tooth decay. It can also create gaps in the front bottom teeth and prevent activities like licking one’s lips, playing a wind instrument, and kissing.
Tongue-tie has been known to fix itself over time or persist without causing any problems. In other cases, a frenectomy may be required. Since there are few blood vessels or nerve endings in the frenulum, the procedure is rather quick and discomfort is minimal. After a frenectomy, a baby will be able to breastfeed right away.
The symptoms of tongue-tie are usually apparent. Make sure to contact Dr. Craddock or Dr. Godat immediately if your child:
– Has a heart-shaped tongue
– Has difficulty pushing his or her tongue out past the lower front teeth
– Has trouble lifting his or her tongue up to the upper teeth
– Has issues moving his or her tongue side-to-side
– Has issues with breastfeeding
– Has issues with speech
– Has issues eating
– Complains about restriction, pain, or discomfort in the tongue area