What is tongue tie?
Tongue tie is the common name for a medical condition known as ankyloglossia. The lingual frenulum is a normal web-like area of tissue connecting the under surface of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Normally, this tissue recedes during development, even before we are born. In some cases, however, this tissue does not recede properly and causes an abnormally short frenulum, which tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Proper mobility of the tongue is important for feeding as well as speech.
When does tongue tie require treatment?
Not every case of tongue tie needs treatment. If feeding is normal as an infant, the tongue tie is usually simply observed. If an infant has a poor latch due to tongue tie, this can lead to problems breastfeeding, maternal discomfort, and potentially poor weight gain by the infant. In these cases, treatment of the tongue tie may be necessary. In older children, correction of a tongue tie may be necessary to address certain problems with speech, particularly when there are articulation issues with certain sounds, such as l, r, t, d, n, th, sh, and z. Still older children or adolescents may desire correction of the tongue tie because of social/appearance issues.
Tongue tie surgery, called a frenulectomy, is a simple procedure to correct this problem. In very young infants as well as older children and adolescents, this procedure can often be performed in the office setting. For babies older than 6 weeks and young children, a brief general anesthetic in the operating room may be most appropriate.