Tongue Tie

The strip of skin connecting the baby's tongue to the bottom of their mouth is shorter than usual.

Tongue Tie

Unlock fluent speech with precision and care with an expert tongue tie surgery.

Tongue-tie is where the piece of skin connecting the tongue to the bottom of the mouth is shorter or tighter than usual.

Tongue Tie Basics To Understand The Problem

A tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a condition in which the thick or tight tie of tissue linking the tongue to the base of the mouth is shorter than usual, restricting the tongue’s movement. This thick band of tissue is known as the “frenulum.”

The tongue tie can lead to difficulties with various oral functions, such as the following:

  • Swallowing
  • Speaking
  • Proper oral posture

It may also impact dental health in some cases. Ankyloglossia affects up to 10% of babies at birth. In adults, it can lead to choking and difficulty breathing while they eat or drink. Tongue tie can also cause chronic pain in adults if it gets severe.

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Types Of Tongue Tie: Anterior Tongue Tie & Posterior Tongue Tie

In most cases, the first type of tongue tie directly affects the anterior frenulum, which is present at the front of the tongue. 

Another type is a posterior tongue tie, which occurs when the frenulum is restricted further backwards under the tongue.

Tongue Tie Symptoms

The most common symptom is that adults with tongue tie often face difficulty with swallowing and chewing. In babies, it makes breastfeeding and bottle-feeding difficult. This is because the baby cannot get the tongue to the roof of the mouth to squeeze the nipple to express milk while feeding due to the tongue tie effect.

Because of the limited range of motion of the tongue, the child can’t create a good seal. This makes it less effective when expressing milk from the nipple or bottle and pushing it to the back of the mouth for the swallowing mechanism.

Newborns with posterior tongue ties may protrude their tongues past their gums. But in this case, the tongue is tethered further back, which can cause feeding or swallowing issues.

Various issues, not just tongue tie, can cause latching and feeding challenges. It’s essential to check out for other causes before seeking professional Tongue Tie Treatment. Additional issues could include the following:

  • A recessed jaw
  • An infection
  • Jaundice
  • Poor positioning
  • Engorgement

Some people are diagnosed in the later stage of their life, especially if the tongue tie wasn’t strong enough to cause breastfeeding problems in infancy. Teens are often diagnosed with tongue tie after becoming self-conscious about their tongues and expressing concerns as they become involved in romantic relationships.

Other Tongue Tie Signs Include:

  • Difficulty in uplifting the tongue to the roof of the mouth or moving the tongue to the sides
  • A tongue that appears heart-shaped when stuck out
  • Trouble touching the tongue past the lower lip
  • Challenges in pronouncing specific letters such as “t,” “d,” “l,” and “th”

Dental Issues Related To Tongue Tie

Dental issues related to tongue tie can vary depending on the severity of the condition and individual circumstances. Here are a few ways tongue tie might impact the dental health of the patient:

  • Orthodontic Issues: 

Tongue ties can sometimes contribute to orthodontic problems such as malocclusion (misalignment of teeth) or gaps between teeth. As a result, open bites can develop due to gaps between the upper and lower teeth when the patient closes the mouth. 

The difficulty in tongue movement caused by tongue ties can disturb normal swallowing function and oral posture. It may lead to tooth misalignment and the development of open bites. 

  • Difficulty Cleaning Teeth: 

Limited tongue movement due to tongue tie can make it difficult for individuals to clean their teeth properly, potentially increasing the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and dental cavities.

  • Speech Development: 

Tongue tie can affect speech development, leading to difficulties with specific sounds or speech patterns. This can indirectly impact dental health, as speech difficulties affect oral hygiene practices or habits.

In persistent cases of tongue-tie, the patient may have specific speech problems. They may have difficulties creating sounds that need the tongue or tongue tip to:

  • Arch off the floor of the mouth – such as the ‘r’ sound.
  • touch the roof of the mouth – such as the t, d, n, l, s and z sounds
  • Feeding Problems In Infants: 

Tongue tie can interfere with infant breastfeeding, affecting dental development & oral health as they grow.

Breastfeeding problems can be associated with tongue tie, but the condition can be challenging to diagnose in newborns. Many of the symptoms of tongue tie also occur with other feeding issues. Therefore, seeing your doctor, a maternal and child health nurse, or a lactation consultant is essential if you have trouble breastfeeding.

It is important to remember that most breastfeeding issues are not caused by tongue-tie & can be overcome with the proper support.

Tongue Tie Diagnosis

Doctors will examine whether the frenulum restricts the tongue’s movement when identifying tongue tie. When a child is old enough to speak, their paediatrician will listen to them talk and see if there are any sounds they find difficult to produce.

Sometimes, a child might need to see a specialist to diagnose and treat tongue tie, such as:

  • an oral surgeon
  • a lactation nurse or consultant
  • an ear, nose, and throat specialist (ENT)
  • a pediatric dentist
  • a speech-language therapist

How To Treat Tongue Tie In Adults?

Tongue-tie is a common disorder that sometimes causes few to no side effects. In some cases, it resolves itself over time. While some parents choose to treat their baby’s tongue-tie in infancy or childhood, others do not.

If you have tongue-tie as an adult, it’s not too late to seek treatment. Many people might go through childhood to adulthood without realizing they have tongue-tie.

People with tongue ties into adulthood usually adapt to using their tongue atypically. While this may provide short-term relief from symptoms, it can also cause various side effects, from dental issues to speech impairments, in the long run.

If tongue-tie interferes with your health and quality of life, you can find relief in therapeutic exercises suggested by your speech pathologist or another doctor.

You might opt for surgery to correct your tongue-tie in more severe cases. Surgery is usually simple and low-risk.

How To Treat Tongue Tie In Babies?

Suppose your breastfeeding assessment suggests your baby’s tongue tie is causing problems. In that case, your baby can have a tongue tie release (also called a tongue tie snip, a division of the frenulum, or a frenotomy). This may make it easier to breastfeed. No evidence exists that a tongue tie release in a newborn pēpi will prevent later speech or dental problems.

Your lactation expert or midwife can refer your pēpi to a health trained in tongue tie release. This can happen via the public health system, or you can pay privately.

Health professionals who can conduct frenotomy are: 

  • registered midwife (they may also be a lactation consultant)
  • general practitioner (GP)
  • child health doctor
  • dentist or dental specialist.

Talk to your lactation consultant or Lead Maternity Carer about what will suit you best.

Tongue Tie Release

A tongue tie release is a quick & simple procedure. 

Most babies show very little distress but may be upset about being wrapped & held firmly.

The health professional conducting the tongue tie release will lift your tongue and cut its frenulum with a laser or sterile scissors. There should be minimal bleeding.

Immediately after the release, you will be encouraged to feed your kid. You may also be shown a few changes you can make to your breastfeeding routine.

Most babies have a tongue tie release before they are two months old. If your kid is older or has a more complicated tongue tie, a surgeon may need to treat it under general anaesthetic.

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What To Expect After The Release?

Some parents notice a difference immediately after the release, while others require more time to learn about breastfeeding with their baby’s more mobile tongue. Few parents say it makes no difference. 

If your pēpi is older than 2 months, it will likely take a few days to a few weeks before you see the full effect.

If the feeding problems continue, other problems may affect your baby’s feeding. Your pēpi may need further assessment. Your midwife, doctor, practice nurse, or Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse would follow up to see how you are doing and if you still have problems. They will see what can be done about them.

Tongue Tie Treatment

Children who do not have tongue tie issues do not require medical attention. As a child grows, the frenulum stretches, often providing the tongue adequate flexibility to move appropriately.

If surgery needs to be performed, the oral surgeon, dentist, or ENT can perform the following:

  • Frenotomy (Pronounced Freh-NOT-Uh-Mee) Or Frenulectomy (Pronounced Fren-Yuh-LEK-Tuh-Mee): Using a scalpel, laser, or scissors, the physician makes a tiny incision in the frenulum. The frenulum is lengthened as a result. The process is not painful, but it is rapid. The technique can be performed at the doctor’s office if the child is small enough to be safely held still while swaddling. If an older infant or toddler cannot remain still, anaesthetic may be necessary.
  • Frenuloplasty (Pronounced FREN-Yuh-Lo-Plass-Tee): The surgeon will do surgery to divide and stretch the frenulum to liberate the tongue in older children or if it is too thick for a simple frenotomy. Children are given Local anaesthetic so they can comfortable through the procedure and not feel any pain.

Recovery Process From A Tongue Tie Procedure

After a frenotomy, babies often heal rapidly and can begin feeding themselves. While many newborns pick up feeding skills quickly, some could take time to adjust. If your baby is facing trouble feeding, a lactation consultant or feeding specialist can assist you.

Older children may experience some stiffness for one or two weeks, but this will resolve.

What Else Should I Know?

Once treated, a tongue knot could leave a scar. Additionally, the tongue tie can come back after therapy. Your doctor might advise you on how to prevent this from occurring.

If you think your child’s condition is getting worse, talk to the doctor. Ask if they will suggest a speech-language pathologist if your child struggles with clear speech.

Your Premier Tongue Tie Surgeon: Town Hall Dental

Tongue Tie Treatment may involve a frenotomy or frenuloplasty, where the frenulum (the tissue causing the restriction) is clipped or surgically altered to allow for more significant tongue movement. This can address dental issues related to tongue tie by improving oral function and hygiene. If you’re concerned about how tongue tie might affect dental health, it’s essential to consult with The Town Hall Dental, a Specialist dentist & oral surgeon. We are here to evaluate the situation and recommend appropriate treatment options. So call us today at 01484 723788 to untangle your speech with precision!

FAQs

The tip of your baby’s tongue looks notched or heart-shaped when they stick it out.

They have difficulty sticking their tongue out.

The tip of your kid’s tongue can’t reach the top of their mouth or further than the edge of their lower lip.

They have difficulty moving their tongue from side to side.

Babies with a tongue tie may have issues such as:

  • Trouble latching on or staying attached to your breast
  • Feeding for a long time, having a short break, then feeding again.
  • Being unsettled and seeming hungry all the time

When feeding from a bottle, a baby predominantly uses the middle part of their tongue, so it is not as crucial for the tip of the tongue to be mobile. If the tongue tie is affecting feeding, the following signs may be present:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Poor weight gain
  • Taking a long time to feed
  • Excessive gassiness

Your baby won’t necessarily have all the signs mentioned if it has problems with breastfeeding or bottle feeding due to a tongue tie or lip tie. But if your baby is experiencing any of the signs mentioned above or you feel concerned that it may have a tongue or lip tie, you may want to discuss it with your GP, midwife, paediatrician, or breastfeeding specialist.

Tongue tie can sometimes cause problems such as speech difficulties, difficulty eating certain foods and difficulty cleaning teeth. Some other issues are appearance-related, such as a wide gap between the bottom two front teeth or a V-shaped notch at the end of the tongue.

Check with a speech and language therapist if more than half of a three-year-old kid’s speech is not understood by people outside the family or if the child has difficulty licking an ice cream cone.

It is possible that latching will be a struggle at first since we would use a small amount of anaesthetic to complete the whole procedure. The numbness will wear off about 30 to 45 minutes afterwards, so do not be alarmed if latching is difficult at first.

Tongue ties can vary in severity and include what we call a “posterior tongue tie”, which may require a few weeks of practice before you see the benefits of the frenectomy.

We recommend being thorough with the prescribed post-treatment exercises and working with a lactation consultant and an osteopath to achieve optimal results and avoid reattachment.

Is your child’s linguistic tongue tie or lip tie causing discomfort or limiting their ability to eat, speak or swallow? 

Complete the form or call us to arrange your appointment.

Tongue-tie typically affects baby boys more often than girls.

Tongue-tie is not the only cause for breastfeeding difficulty.

Sometimes, tongue tie does not cause speech delay, but it can affect a child’s speech articulation—the ability to form sounds & pronounce words.

Tongue-tie diagnoses are increasing as breastfeeding becomes more commonplace.

We treat from newborns to teenagers and even adults at our American Smile clinic for mums and dads.

Book your consultation online here, and we’ll follow up with a questionnaire and consent pack.

Unfortunately, in terms of compliance, we cannot offer full sedation (General Anesthetic) with this kind of Ankyloglossia Treatment. However, in our experience, we have completed many procedures with great success, as the laser procedure is so fast, and our staff is specifically trained to treat children. We also use a topical numbing gel on the Ankyloglossia Treatment area to make it even more comfortable.

We often ask parents to lie in the dental chair with the child in front, your arms across them to help keep them still – we do not pin down or force any treatment without their consent or cooperation.

We can, however, for over 3s, offer Inhalation Sedation, and for over 6s, Intravenous Sedation – this will be planned for on your consultation and booked for another day.

They will not feel the pain, no, as the numbing gel is substantial and works incredibly fast – but of course, it’s not so pleasant for them, and they usually do cry as this feels uncomfortable, and they’ll need to be as still as they can.

The procedure is quick and clean without bleeding – it is scarce, but for older children (5+) a stitch may be required to aid with the healing process.

Complete tissue healing takes 6 weeks, but patients will feel their normal selves within 3-5 days. That means they may be uncomfortable or sensitive for a few days after their Ankyloglossia Treatment.

Yes, they may eat and drink straight after the procedure; just be mindful that they may still be numb, so watch out for biting their cheek or tongue when chewing. Stick to soft food items for the initial 3-5 days—ice cream is perfect for healing!

When massaging, one drop of Vitamin E oil on the treated area can help the healing.

Do NOT exceed 6 hours between stretches; you do not need to wake your child to complete the exercises overnight.

With successful exercises and the efficiency of the laser, re-attachments are very rare. If they do occur, however, the surgeon will notify you, and we may re-release them at your review appointment. We may also ask you to come back after the healing is complete and then re-release them!

Book a consultation

If you would like to know more about this or any of our treatments and find out if they are right for you, click the links below to book a consultation or make an enquiry.

0% finance (subject to status) is available to spread the cost of many of our treatments.

The Old Town Hall, Thornton Square
Brighouse, West Yorkshire, HD6 1EA

01484 723788
info@townhalldental.co.uk

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