Talking About Tongue-Ties

Talking About Tongue-Ties

Do you know what it means to be “tongue-tied”?

There’s one figurative meaning that means to stumble over words, and then there is a literal definition that means the tongue is physically tied to the lower jaw as a result of development in utero. Although statistics show that about four percent of babies born in the United States are born with a tongue-tie, the number is actually much higher because the condition is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. While it may seem odd that a dentist is writing about tongue-ties in babies, the condition has consequences for jaw development and the palate. Learn more about how Dr. Korous is your Frisco dental expert in treating patients with tongue-ties.

What Is a Tongue-tie?

A tongue-tie is a malformation of the lingual frenulum, the skin that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. This malformation causes a restriction in the movement of the tongue and can lead to a speech impediment. If left untreated, a tongue-tie can also cause problems in newborn babies in latching during breastfeeding, which can mean more air is swallowed during nursing causing painful gas, acid reflux, nutritional deficiencies and failure to thrive. The condition, also known as ankyloglossia, can lead to increased rates of ear infections, speech delays or speaking difficulties and difficulty in cleaning the teeth.

Tongue-ties can also restrict the growth of the lower jaw, which can lead to misalignment of the teeth and malocclusion of the bite. These conditions cause wear and tear on the teeth over time and may mean more dental care is needed.

As a result of the complications related to an untreated tongue-tie, it is important that the condition is diagnosed early, and interventions are started.

How Does Dr. Korous Treat a Tongue-tie?

The most common way to treat a tongue-tie is by cutting the tissue to release the tongue. This can be done surgically or with a laser. However, there is another treatment that can be performed before and after cutting the tissue to maximize results. This treatment is known as myofunctional therapy.

What is Myofunctional Therapy?

Myofunctional therapy is a treatment designed to make tongue-tie surgery more successful. After the tissue under the tongue is cut and the tongue is released, myofunctional treatment can help prevent the tissue from reattaching. Dr. Korous begins myofunctional treatment for two to three weeks before the tissue is cut, and the treatment lasts for a few weeks after the procedure to make sure the muscles of the mouth are functioning correctly.

When Should Children Have Myofunctional Therapy?

As with many oral health concerns, the earlier, the better. Early intervention is critical because of the serious nature of tongue-ties and the related conditions they cause. Ideally, once your child is diagnosed with a tongue, or you suspect your child has a tongue-tie, you should call Millennium Smiles to schedule a consultation for myofunctional treatment.

Want to learn more about how we treat tongue-ties in Frisco or Little Elm? Call 972-987-4899 today to schedule a consultation.