SCOTTS VALLEY, SANTA CRUZ, CA
Tongue-ties are a condition that develops from birth and, if not treated, can have lasting impacts on your looks and ability to eat, breathe, and speak properly or without restrictions. Some adults have lived their entire lives with an untreated tongue-tie. A new mom may discover that her newborn baby is tongue-tied if breastfeeding attempts are unsuccessful. As such, you may wonder, can tongue-ties be treated at any age? We’ll address that question on the blog today. But first, let’s talk about what a tongue-tie is and why it should be treated in the first place.
What is a tongue-tie?
You may have heard the term “tongue-tied” in reference to someone who jumbled up their words while speaking. But it actually refers to a medical condition known as ankyloglossia, where the tongue’s movement is restricted. Still confused? Look in the mirror, open your mouth wide like you’re going to bite into a big apple, and then lift the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth, and you’ll see a thin string-like tissue that tethers the tongue to the floor of the mouth. That’s your lingual frenum, and everyone naturally has that tissue. However, in some people, their frenum is short or too thick, which essentially “ties-down” the tongue. If you were unable to touch the roof of your mouth with the tip of your tongue while your mouth is open wide, then you might have a tongue-tie.
How can you tell if a baby is tongue-tied?
It’s much easier for an adult to tell whether they have a tongue tie just by lifting their tongue as they look in the mirror. But determining if your baby is tongue-tied requires a little more assessing. When your baby opens their mouth wide to cry, you may be able to spot whether they have a tongue tie.
Otherwise, look for these signs:
- Baby frequently feeds
- Baby never seems full
- Baby is cranky, cries a lot, or is colic
- Baby fails to thrive or loses weight
- Mother has sore, tender breasts (or mastitis) as a result of the baby not emptying the breast during feedings
These issues are due to the fact that the baby cannot latch onto the mother’s breast properly due to a tongue restriction. A lactation consultant or pediatrician should be able to identify whether your baby is tongue-tied. It’s essential to treat a tongue tie as soon as it is discovered to prevent feeding issues or developmental or speech delays later in life.
How are tongue-ties treated?
Tongue-tie treatment is rather simple. It involves numbing the area and using a precise dental laser to vaporize the restrictive tissue. Don’t worry. You’ll still have a lingual frenum, but your tongue will have improved movement. Since the dental laser cauterizes as it goes, there is minimal bleeding and discomfort following the procedure. Afterward, the area may be sensitive and sore for a few days, and you may prefer to stick to cool, not hot, foods and beverages during that time. The procedure itself takes a mere minute. Babies often don’t even need to be numb because the injection would take longer and be more painful than the procedure itself.
At what age can tongue-ties be treated?
This may sound surprising, but tongue-tie releases can be treated at any age! The procedure can be performed on a newborn infant or an older adult. It’s a minimally invasive procedure with few side effects. Therefore, if you are a mother experiencing breastfeeding difficulties and believe that your baby may be tongue-tied or an adult that is aware of your condition, schedule a consult with Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry today by calling (831) 438-4411 or visit our website.