‘Tongue tie’ is a condition occurring in infants and young children resulting in a restrictive or tight lingual frenulum, which is the connective tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. There are several frenulum in the mouth. Having a restricted or tight frenulum can impair the movement of the tongue, and can have an impact on eating, speech, breast-feeding and even social development.
Your frenulum can be seen when you open your and point your tongue out and up. A person with tongue tie will have reduced mobility of the tongue and might not be able to poke their tongue out as far as others.
The potential effects of tongue tie:
Tongue tie can often affect an individuals speech. Some children with tongue tie can adjust their pronunciation of speech to sound relatively unimpeded, even those with a frenulum attached quite close to the tip of the tongue. However a lot of children may not be able to compensate adequately, especially when talking quickly, where pronunciation and articulation can be impacted.
Having a restricted movement of the tongue also prevents it from doing its job properly. Because the tongue cannot effectively sweep away food and debris or spread saliva, this can result in increased risk of cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Eating and Digestion
Tongue tie can also make eating difficult. Children are not able to lick around their mouth, and some are even unable to lick their lips fully. In rare cases, a tongue tie can impact the mechanics of eating so much that it leads to digestive issues.
Tongues with a restricted frenulum will often appear with a cleft at the tip, or present in a heart shape when the tongue is sticking out.
There is a strong link between effective communication, development and self-esteem. A speech impediment such as those caused by a tongue tie can result in children having lowered self-esteem, and may negatively impact on their social and overall development., and lead to frustration and distress from an inability to communicate like others.
The goals of tongue tie diagnosis and treatment is to ensure patients can achieve normal movement and motion of the tongue, allowing for effective function, as well as correct speech and eating.
The procedure involves:
Application of topical anaesthetic
Tensioning the frenum
Releasing frenulum with laser
Using dental lasers, a tongue tie can be treated without the need for general anaesthesia and blades, and provides much faster healing time. Dr King has held laser dentistry accreditation for over a decade, receiving extensive training and education, training using the Biolase and WaterLase methods.
The laser treatment process results in:
The procedure is quick and requires minimal invasiveness;
Laser cauterisation creates minimal bleeding;
Fast healing due to laser cauterisation;
Minimal pain and discomfort following the procedure;
Requires no general anaesthetic, only local anaesthetic in some instances;
More affordable that traditional surgery.
If left untreated, a tongue tie can lead to the following issues:
Reduced oral hygiene;
Poor weight gain due to impacted feeding or eating;
Impacted development of correct speech, or potential failure to development pronunciation of certain speech sounds;
Impediment of correct speech production;
Difficulty or messy eating, inability to lick lips fully.
Increased production of saliva.
Inability to swallow normally, which may also create future orthodontic problems like open bite and crowded teeth.
If you would like to know more about this and any other treatments available at CLDC, please call our friendly reception on (03) 9500 2084.