How Can A Dentist Help Young Children With Tongue-Tie?

Dentist Blog

If your young child is having difficulty learning new words, breathing through his or her nose, or speaking clearly, you may want to have your dentist check for ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie. Tongue-tie is a condition where the lingual frenulum—the mucous membrane underneath the tongue that regulates its movements—is too tight. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to treat it.

What Causes Tongue-Tie, and Can you Prevent it?

Tongue-tie is mainly caused by hereditary factors and it occurs during prenatal development. Although there is no definitive way to prevent tongue-tie, some researchers believe that the condition may also be tied to certain nutrient deficiencies or, conversely, vitamin overdoses. For instance, one study found that too much folic acid could cause tighter closure of midline structures, like the lingual frenulum, which could lead to tongue-tie.

How is it Diagnosed?

Tongue-tie is often diagnosed by lactation consultants or pediatricians since the condition can make it difficult for a baby to nurse. However, tongue-tie may not be diagnosed until a child is a little bit older and visits the dentist. During an appointment, a dentist will conduct a physical exam of your child's oral tissue and can spot tongue-tie. He or she will also go over your child's health history and symptoms (e.g. jaw pain, difficulty with speech, etc.).  

What Dental Issues are Caused by Tongue-Tie?

Tongue-tie can lead to tongue thrusting, a habit where a person places their tongue in the wrong position during swallowing. People usually grow out of tongue-thrusting, but if it isn't treated, then it can lead to malocclusions, like an open bite, that would need orthodontic intervention.

When a child has tongue-tie, it's easier for food debris to become impacted underneath the tongue and around teeth since the tongue cannot easily sweep debris away. Children with tongue-tie may have a harder time keeping their teeth clean and could be more prone to cavities.

How is it Treated?

The good news is that tongue-tie can easily be treated in one, short appointment. Tongue-ties are usually treated with a frenotomy, where a dentist will release, or cut, a small amount of the frenulum so that the tongue can move more freely. The dentist will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area so that the procedure is painless. If your child has a more complex tongue-tie, then the dentist might refer you to a specialist for a frenuloplasty. During that procedure, a dental specialist will reshape the frenulum and may prescribe speech therapy as a part of the recovery process.

Reach out to a dentist in your area today to learn more about tongue-tie releases.


24 January 2023