Tongue Tie (Ankyloglossia)

Written by Dr. Mary

What is Tongue Tie?

Tongue-tie or also known as ankyloglossia is a congenital anomaly that involves the tongue. This condition is basically described as the decrease in size of the tongue tip which results to its decrease in mobility. It is also described as partial fusion of the tip of the tongue and the floor of the mouth. Because of this congenital anomaly, there shall be affectation of the lingual frenulum that movement limitation of the tongue progresses. The only alteration is that there is still part of the frenulum, but it is abnormally short. This restriction then results to the condition tongue-tie which is basically a literal description of the oral problem.


tongue tie (ankyloglossia)

Picture 1 – Tongue tie (ankyloglossia)

Image source – intelligentdental.com

According to reports, the prevalence rate of this condition is being cleared up. This is a rare condition that takes about a minute percent of the newborns in the early times. The latest statistic report presented (2005) that about 4% to 5% of newborns are affected of ankyloglossia. As this condition has been observed for years, it has been recorded that this condition as the child ages becomes less severe. This is due to the fact that the tongue grows as one age and that lingual frenulum recedes allowing more space and less movement restriction.

Causes for Tongue Tie

Ankyloglossia is a congenital anomaly which is acquired from the family tree. This condition has been reported to be running from the family and is considered more prevalent in males than in females. It has also been reported that this congenital problem is from the mothers’ inadequacies when pregnant with the child.

It has been noted that a history of drug abuse during the time of pregnancy places a great risk for the child to develop or be born with tongue tie.

Effects

There are a number of certain effects that tongue tie does to a child. These functional effects can direly affect one and become a dysfunction too. The following are the functional effects of tongue tie:

  1. Feeding problems. The condition is a potential problem in the feeding process of the child or newborn. This is due to the fact that the newborn shall have a difficult time breastfeeding with an altered tongue. The newborns have a hard time latching on to the mothers’ nipples or sucking a bottle.
  2. Dental problems. This becomes a problem to those who have tongue tie because of the lingual frenulum altered attachment on the lower mandibular incisors.
  3. Self-esteem problem. This becomes a problem most especially when the child observes his uniqueness by comparing others from his current state. This is also due to the fact that the physical alteration can be identified or described as similar with a serpent tongue. The normal usage of the tongue is not attained that is why the affected tends to have low self-esteem.

Speech

The speech, as most believe is affects 100% of tongue tie cases, can be attained abnormal. This has been quite disputed back then but today plays no support for the condition does not affect ones speech, in most cases. Others may think that this can delay the child’s ability to talk, but it is otherwise. But this does not leave out for any speech changes. Others have a tendency of having speech problems but are only noticeable when one is about the age of three. The prominent change is the diction of the letter ‘r’. This can be easily altered through the help of surgical intervention.

Tongue Tie Treatment

The aim of treating tongue tie is to correct the effects or assist the effects that may come about with the condition. The following are known helpful tips and remedies for tongue tie:

  1. Feeding problems. This should be taken care of while the child may have difficulty attaining proper latching when feeding. Facilitate feeding accordingly is the main responsibility of the mother so that the child can acquire the nutrition he or she needs.
  2. Consulting a speech doctor. This can help in not permanently damaging the speech of the child. Education is a must that it can help in reducing the problems of the child.
  3. Parental support. As the child grows, providing him or her support and guidance shall evoke him or her to become a normal child as he or she is.

Tongue Tie Clips

Clipping is indicated to the infants affected with tongue tie. The process of such intervention is to clip the frenulum with the use of surgical scissors in order to release the tip of the tongue. Bleeding tendencies may not be avoided and that this can provide pain. As healing process paves in, the infant shall now have an easy time latching on the mother’s breast for feeding.

Tongue Tie Surgery

This is basically much recommended to children rather than the infants. This is due to the fact the child can be easily instructed with tongue exercises right after the procedure and that speech assistance is much convenient too. There are two surgical procedures for tongue tie:

Frenotomy

This involves cutting a thin portion of the frenulum in order to release it from the tongue tip. Local anesthesia is provided to patients.

Frenuloplasty

This procedure is indicated to children who has a thick frenulum and that contains a number of blood vessels. A general anesthesia is even recommended for such procedure. In the process, the frenulum is cut then removed. Stitching the wound is necessary for this procedure.

tongue tie surgery

Picture 2 – Frenuloplasty in tongue tie

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