Tongue-tie Treatments in Pediatric Dentistry

Tongue-tie Treatments in Pediatric Dentistry

The tongue helps us with taste, mastication and speech. Free movement of the tongue is of utmost importance to perform the different functions. In certain instances, in few kids, the tongue is unable to move freely or has a restricted range of movement. For example, if you notice your child having difficulty with speech of breastfeeding it may be an indication that your child’s tongue movements are restricted due to a condition called tongue-tie or ankyloglossia. A condition that affects nearly 11% of babies, tongue-tie is easy to diagnose and treat. Here’s what you need to know about this condition!

What is Tongue-Tie?

Tongue-tie is a congenital condition in which the underside of the tongue is fixed to the floor of the mouth by a short tissue called the lingual frenulum. A baby born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, will have an overly short or thick frenulum. Due to this, the movements of the tongue are inhibited or restricted. As a result, your child may find it difficult to suckle or breastfeed, swallow or talk.

In severe cases of tongue-tie, the tip of the tongue is tied to the floor of the mouth, restricting any form of tongue movement. It is more common in boys, and if not corrected in time, can cause serious implications as the child grows up.

Most parents are unaware of this condition and often misdiagnose tongue-tie symptoms as colic symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie to Watch Out For!

The symptoms of tongue-tie depend upon its severity. Children of all ages can have issues with this condition, but the effects are more pronounced in babies and infants.

Common signs and symptoms that may indicate tongue-tie in babies and infants include:

  • Generalized feeding problems
  • Lack of weight gain in babies
  • Limited tongue movement
  • Gagging or choking
  • Excessive saliva or drooling
  • Difficulty in speech development (common in older children)
  • Colic
  • A visibly short lingual frenum
  • Abnormal breathing patterns

Symptoms in mothers that may indicate tongue-tie in the baby:

  • Painful breastfeeding
  • Poor latching of the baby to the breasts during breastfeeding
  • Sore, cracked nipples that may cause pain or bleeding
  • Breast inflammation
  • Spilling of milk during breastfeeding

Breastfeeding issues are often the most common reasons new mothers visit a lactation consultant. After a physical examination, the breastfeeding specialist or lactation consultant may diagnose a tongue tie. In many cases, a baby may be diagnosed with tongue-tie by the pediatrician when they are underweight or malnourished.

Tongue-tie presents differently in toddlers and young children. Most five or six-year-olds with a tongue-tie cannot speak clearly and make ‘r’ or ‘l’ sounds. Pediatric dentists can help diagnose tongue-tie in your child by observing signs and symptoms like – excess saliva, the gap in upper or lower front teeth, excessive tooth decay or cavities.

Treatment of Tongue-Tie in Pediatric Dentistry

There are many treatment options for tongue-tie, depending upon the severity of the condition, the most being lingual frenectomy or tongue-tie surgery. This procedure is performed by a pediatric dentist specializing in treating these conditions. Contrary to popular belief, tongue-tie surgery is quick and almost painless due to the fewer nerves in the frenum.

How is a Frenectomy Performed?

The procedure of frenectomy is performed under local anesthesia. The dental surgeon cuts the lingual frenulum in this simple procedure thereby increasing it’s range of movements. Laser frenectomies are preferred over traditional surgical ones as they aid in faster and more predictable healing with minimal bleeding and less post-operative pain and inflammation. The recovery after a tongue-tie surgery is quick, and babies are usually able to breastfeed within 24 hours of the procedure.

Milder cases of tongue-tie may be managed using non-surgical treatments. A few breastfeeding position suggestions by a lactation consultant and speech therapy may help resolve the issues faced by your child. Severe cases of tongue require surgery. Timely diagnosis and treatment for tongue-tie help prevent further difficulties and complications like malnutrition and impaired speech.

The lingual frenulum may also be too thick in some children and cannot be corrected using a regular frenectomy. The pediatric dentist will suggest the appropriate treatment for your child if they have a thick and short lingual frenum limiting their tongue movements.

Other treatment procedures that may be used for this condition include craniosacral therapy and motor therapy.

tongue tie

Key Takeaway

If your child has feeding trouble or cannot utter a few syllables clearly, it may be a good idea to consult a pediatric dentist. Untreated tongue tie can result in multiple issues like teeth malalignment, speech problems, multiple tooth cavities and poor overall health.

Our expert pediatric dentists at Shams dental Clinics, Dubai are experienced in treating tongue-tie in children. Book your consultation today!

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