When we hear the term “tongue-tied”, many of us may recall a personal experience where we accidentally stumbled over a word or struggled to recall a phrase. Unfortunately, there are many people who have to deal with a medical condition that literally restricts their tongue’s movement and causes difficulty speaking.
Who can have a tongue-tie and how does it affect them? Read on to find out! If your child has a tongue-tie, reach out to our dental team. Fairchance Dental Arts is a pediatric dentistry, and we regularly help children with tongue-ties overcome their struggles with speaking and eating.
What Are Tongue-Ties and Who Does It Affect?
Like all medical naming conventions, the official term for tongue-ties is a mouthful. It is known as ankyloglossia, where the lingual frenulum (a length of hard tissue formed in eutero) doesn’t properly separate. Basically, the tongue doesn’t have a full range of motion because it is tethered too tightly to the bottom of your mouth.
Tongue Ties in Infants
The greatest risk caused by a tongue-tie happens during infancy, as the restrained tongue can cause breathing issues or trouble with feeding. If left untreated, tongue ties in infants can lead to:
- Lower weight gain from feeding difficulties
- Nutritional deficiencies due to poor milk intake
- Speech impediments as they grow older
- Dental issues, including misalignment and gaps later in life
- Social challenges stemming from eating and speaking differently
- Increased risk of developing oral habits, like thumb sucking, to compensate for discomfort
Tongue Ties in Children and Adults
Just because the greatest risk happens during infancy doesn’t mean tongue-ties simply go away. Children and adults can also suffer from this condition, though the main concern after infancy is speech-related. Some older patients with a tongue-tie report that it causes discomfort while chewing, and others may not even be aware they have a tongue-tie.
Here are a few examples of how tongue ties may impact the lives of older patients:
- Creating speech issues
- An increase in social anxiety
- Discomfort while eating certain foods
- Poor dental hygiene
- Long-term dental issues
What Causes Tongue Ties?
The exact cause behind tongue ties is still being researched. The lingual frenulum normally becomes separated before birth, so many suspect it is caused by genetics. There is strong evidence to support this theory, as the condition is more common in boys and certain families tend to have multiple members with tongue ties.
Are there Treatment Options?
Thanks to the wonderful team of dedicated dental professionals at Fairchance Dental Arts, we can create a personalized treatment plan to address any oral health concerns you may have—including tongue ties!
The simplest tongue-tie solution is a frenectomy or frenotomy, where the tongue-tie is removed by a minor surgery. Most of the time, this is an outpatient procedure and can be performed on children as young as six weeks old to help them nurse and breathe properly.
For older patients or if a tongue-tie is particularly thick, another minor surgery called a frenuloplasty may be used. This will be done with localized anesthesia and may require additional care like medical stitches which slowly dissolve as the tongue heals.
Why Are Tongue Ties Considered a Dental Issue?
To treat a tongue-tie and improve feeding and speech development, your child needs to see an expert on oral health. And who better than a dentist to address any oral health concerns?
Discover Your Tongue-Tie Treatment Options by Calling Us Today!
If you or a loved one are a resident of Fairchance or one of the neighboring communities, odds are you already know our office is your home for a beaming smile. But we provide more than just smiles you can’t wait to share! From toothaches to tongue-ties, our incredible team is here to help you get the dental care you deserve.
Call our office today to learn more, and schedule a consultation for you or a loved one.