Does Your Baby Have Tongue-Tie? A Dentist Discusses the Signs and Treatment

A smiling infant with a white blanketWhen most people think of the phrase “tongue-tied,” they usually think about someone who can’t get their words out. But tongue-tie is actually a fairly common condition (sometimes referred to as ankyloglossia) that “ties” the tongue to the floor of the mouth, preventing it from moving freely. It’s found in 4%-11% of newborn babies, boys more than girls, and can have several significant side effects. Fortunately, there are signs you can look for that indicate your baby may have tongue-tie and it can be treated quite easily by a dentist in Bullard. Learn more below!

What Is Tongue-Tie?

A normal part of everyone’s oral anatomy is a strip of soft tissue called a frenulum. There are multiple frenula in the mouth, some of which connect the lips to the gums and another that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Tongue-tie occurs when the frenulum is particularly short or tight and prevents the tongue from moving the way it should.

What Are the Signs Your Baby May Have Tongue-Tie?

There are several indications of tongue-tie in infants, some of which affect them directly and others that affect mothers while they’re breastfeeding:

  • Signs you may notice in your baby – Babies with tongue-tie may have trouble latching, completing a full feeding, or gaining weight normally. They could also be excessively fussy, have colic, or dribble milk down their chin while feeding.
  • Signs you may notice when breastfeeding – Tender, cracked, or bleeding nipples, frequent mastitis or infections, or ongoing pain while breastfeeding.

In older children, you may notice that they have trouble extending their tongue up to the top teeth, from side to side, or sticking it out past the lower front teeth. They could also have speech impediments, language delays, or trouble swallowing.

How Can a Dentist Treat Tongue-Tie?

If you suspect your infant may have tongue-tie, the first step is to schedule a checkup with a family dentist who can diagnose and treat the condition. If treatment is necessary, a simple procedure called a frenectomy can be done in-office to “snip” the frenulum.

Traditionally, this procedure caused little or no discomfort because there are very few nerve endings in the frenulum. Today, with modern technology like a soft-tissue laser, it’s even easier on patients, with less bleeding and faster healing. In fact, numbing the area usually isn’t necessary.

Although tongue-tie is fairly common and can have negative consequences, early diagnosis and treatment are easier than ever.

About the Author

Dr. Tad Morgan is a Texas native and has been a family dentist in Bullard for over 20 years. He regularly evaluates his pediatric patients for signs of tongue-tie and provides treatment with a soft-tissue laser to make the procedure comfortable and efficient. If you have any questions or think your child may be tongue-tied, you can reach him through his website.