Baby with Tongue-Tie

What Is Tongue-Tie?

And what problems does it cause?

The tongue is one of those body parts that doesn’t get much attention. Aside from the occasional brushing, it doesn’t need much upkeep and doesn’t usually have any problems (aside from the occasional bite). However, one relatively minor defect sometimes causes problems. We call it a “tongue-tie,” also known as an ankyloglossia.

Underneath the tongue is a small fold of mucous membrane called the tongue web or lingual frenulum. Tongue-tie refers to a congenital condition where this tissue is too restrictive or attached too closely toward the tip of the tongue. It can inhibit tongue movement, proper speaking, eating, and more. Some speculate that the condition can lead to misaligned teeth (due to improper tongue placement and pressure) or a higher risk of cavities (since the tongue cannot as effectively clear food debris).

Doctors commonly identify tongue-tie at the time of birth or shortly thereafter because it can cause difficulty breastfeeding.

Symptoms of tongue-tie in babies include:

  • Difficult, frequent, or painful breastfeeding
  • Inability to latch
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

What About Adults?

Most adults with the condition likely have a mild or moderate case since they did not receive a diagnosis as children. Therefore, they have typically learned to adapt and are simply unaware of the difference. Symptoms include the inability to stick out the tongue past the bottom teeth, as well as a creased or heart-shaped tongue.

What is the Treatment for Tongue-Tie?

The solution is a straightforward procedure called a tongue-tie release., wherein the troublesome tissue is cut to allow more movement. Minor swelling and discomfort are expected, but healing is generally rapid, and patients quickly adapt to their new tongue mobility!