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Are There Long-Term Effects of Untreated Tongue Tie?

Looking at baby’s smileYou’ve probably heard the phrase tongue tie, as a reference to misspeaking or mispronouncing words. However, tongue tie is an actual medical condition that causes the tongue to not move as it should. The lingual frenulum is a piece of tissue attaching the tongue to the mouth, and it usually separates before birth. However, in cases of tongue tie, this separation doesn’t occur. This problem is harmless if treated early, but if prolonged, it can lead to serious long-term effects. Keep reading to learn about the importance of treating tongue tie and what can happen if it’s ignored.

How is Tongue Tie Treated?

Tongue tie can usually be caught right after the baby is born, and the most common treatment is called a lingual frenectomy. This is done with a soft tissue laser, which minimizes pain and bleeding. The procedure is quick, comfortable, and babies are encouraged to breastfeed soon after to promote recovery and get back into their routine. However, older patients who get a frenectomy may need to participate in oral myofunctional therapy afterward to help them speak and use their tongue properly.

What Happens if Tongue Tie is Left Untreated?

The tongue is an important part of the body because of its role in proper facial development. Unfortunately, if tongue tie is left untreated, it can have serious affects on your baby’s growth, speech, and smile, including:

  • Crooked teeth: The tongue helps shape arches, allowing for straighter teeth. When the tongue doesn’t have the mobility it needs, arch lengths can be changed and shortened, causing a misaligned smile.
  • Breathing and hearing: Untreated tongue tie can block airways and affect swallowing, causing mucus buildup and frequent ear infections.
  • Chewing: Problems with jaw joints are common among those with tongue tie, making it much harder to eat.
  • Speaking: Speech defects and lisping are common effects of tongue tie in adults and children.
  • Appearance: Besides the problems that tongue tie can cause inside the mouth, it can also lead to flattened cheekbones and a retruded jaw.

Sadly, the problems don’t stop there. A common symptom of tongue tie is pausing in breathing during sleep, also called sleep apnea. You may also notice loud snoring. These issues can affect your child for the rest of their life, changing their sleeping habits and restfulness.

Thankfully, all of these problems can be avoided. Just remember this information for your baby or even potential new members of your family to keep everyone happy and healthy!

Meet the Dentist

A native Texan, Dr. Tad Morgan loves caring for patients of all ages in his community. He offers treatments for tongue tie like frenectomy, and he even provides oral myofunctional therapy for older patients to give everyone the care they need and deserve. If you have any questions, he can be reached through his website or by phone at (903) 825-1112.