You have questions, and TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of New England has answers. And more, we are ready and able to help treat your baby!
What is Ankyloglossia?
Ankyloglossia is more commonly referred to as “tongue-tie.” While this sounds scary, all it means is that an infant has a small fold of tissue connecting their tongue to floor of their mouth. This band of tissue is known as a “frenulum.”
What is a Frenulum?
You have frenulum in several parts of your body. They exist wherever you have an organ that can move, but generally shouldn’t. There are frenulum in your brain, in your digestive system, and in your mouth connecting your cheeks, lips, and tongues. As babies develop, there is a frenulum that connects their tongue to their mouth to prevent excess movement before birth. Generally, this frenulum–the lingual frenulum–detatches before birth.
Sometimes they don’t and the baby is born with Ankyloglossia or Tongue-tie. Ankyloglossia can be treated quite easily, but it’s important to discuss it with your pediatrician or a specialized dentist (like our specialists at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of New England) as soon as the problem is identified.
The Mayo Clinic identifies several tell-tale symptoms of Ankyloglossia
- Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
- Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
- A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out
Why is Ankyloglossia a problem?
Ankyloglossia is a problem for several reasons. Perhaps most obvious is that babies use their tongues when they eat–whether breast feeding or bottle feeding. Ankyloglossia can keep the structures of the mouth and tongue from functioning correctly.
If it is not treated in infancy, Ankyloglossia can also cause problems as a child ages, The Mayo Clinic explains that Ankyloglossia can lead to:
- Speech difficulties. Tongue-tie can interfere with the ability to make certain sounds — such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r” and “l.”
- Poor oral hygiene. For an older child or adult, tongue-tie can make it difficult to sweep food debris from the teeth. This can contribute to tooth decay and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Tongue-tie can also lead to the formation of a gap or space between the two bottom front teeth.
- Challenges with other oral activities. Tongue-tie can interfere with activities such as licking an ice cream cone, licking the lips, kissing or playing a wind instrument.
The good news is that Ankyloglossia can be treated!
How is Ankyloglossia treated?
While some doctors and dentists suggest that some cases of Ankyloglossia can be left untreated and that is may self-correct as the child grows, other cases will benefit from intervention.
The standard procedure for treating Ankyloglossia is a Frenectomy. A Frenectomy or a Frenulectomy is the reduction of abnormal or restricted frenulum.
Frenectomies are less invasive than having a dental filling. Local anesthetics will be used to ensure comfort during the procedure. The tissue is then reduced, often times using a laser. Laser does not cut, produces minimal discomfort, and almost no bleeding. Lasers sterilize at touch, therefore have less risk of infection and promote faster healing.
If your infant needs a frenectomy to treat Ankyloglossia, TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of New England is ready and able to help. We perform Tongue-tie procedures in our Bolton office and in our Worcester office. Tongue-tie procedures, including our laser procedures, are quick and (with local anesthetic) easy.
To make an appointment with the New England Tongue-tie procedure experts, contact us today!