Tongue-ties are a very hot topic among parents as well as medical and dental providers. Many parents question if their child has a tongue-tie and if it will affect their child’s ability to speak.
First, what is a Tongue-Tie?
Ankyloglossia, also known as “tongue-tie,” is an oral condition that may cause difficulty with nursing, speech articulation, and feeding in children.
The term tongue-tie comes from a short or restricted membrane (the frenum) that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth.
Issues that can stem from Tongue-Ties
Tongue-ties may cause breastfeeding problems including difficulty nursing or taking a bottle, gas, reflux, clicking/smacking noises while feeding, or milk leaking from the mouth while feeding. Breastfeeding mothers can also experience prolonged nipple pain or discomfort if their child has a tongue-tie.
In older children, tongue-ties may also lead to speech articulation or feeding issues.
A deeper dive into the speech and articulation issues
An assessment with a speech-language pathologist (SLP) to evaluate speech delay is recommended prior to scheduling a frenectomy procedure. A SLP will evaluate whether or not a tongue-tie is impacting the ease of accurate articulation or difficulty pronouncing specific sounds.
Some issues with tongue-ties include frustration with communication, stuttering, slow/slurred speech, errors with vowel sounds, or speech delay/disorders.
If ankyloglossia is diagnosed and causing speech or feeding issues, the lingual frenum can easily be released in the office through a procedure called a frenectomy. Seeing a SLP before and after a frenum release procedure is extremely important. The SLP will prescribe stretches, exercises, and activities as pre-therapy in order to decrease the potential for reattachment of the frenum after the procedure.
At Cumberland Valley Pediatric Dentistry, we offer frenectomy procedures using the LightScalpel CO2 laser which allows the procedure to be completed in a few seconds.
During her residency, Dr. Caster is very passionate about this subject as she conducted research during her residency training focused on diagnosing and managing tongue and lip-ties in breastfeeding patients. Please contact our office for more information!