Tongue-Tie (Frenulectomy)

When a person is tongue-tied, this term refers to the soft tissue band that connects from the floor of the mouth to the undersurface of the tongue being too short. The band inhibits the normal movement of the tongue. There is a range in the severity of this problem.

Symptoms:

Functional

  • An inability to extend the tongue
    for an infant, this can interfere with or even prevent breast-feeding because the newborn cannot latch onto the nipple or grasps the nipple so tightly to express the milk that the mother becomes too sore to continue. For a child, the short tongue extension becomes a more minor inconvenience when licking foods, such as ice cream .
     
  • Interference with speech development
    There is little evidence that this condition has an important impact on speech because the tongue can form all of the needed sounds in other ways.
     
  • Dental problems
    It has been speculated that the lingual frenulum can prevent the central lower teeth from growing closely together. This is probably less of a truth than the fact that it can be painful if the frenulum gets caught within a pre-existing dental gap.

Social

  • The forked appearance of a tongue-tied child
  • can be a source of teasing and, sometimes, derision.

click images to enlarge

Treatment

While a person does not have to have this problem treated, the division of a short frenulum is a simple, quick and relatively painless procedure. There are few complications – scarring, bleeding, infection or injury to the nearby salivary glands- and they are rarely serious.

We had our 3 week old’s frenulum cut to aid in breastfeeding as I was experiencing some difficulty with him latching on. Dr. Godley was very quick and simply made a small snip to allow tongue movement. There was a small amount of blood and only about 10 seconds of crying. My son seemed to be more angry about Dr. Godley’s fingers in his mouth! There were no side effects that we saw and Daniel was able to nurse much better. - Anonymous

Our 4 week old: My baby was in no apparent pain. The procedure was quick and without bleeding. Much easier than a circumcision. He drank a bottle after the procedure. - Hollie Colucci

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