SCOTTS VALLEY, SANTA CRUZ, CA
You may have heard the phrase “tongue-tied” used as a metaphor for someone who stumbles over their words or fails to speak clearly. However, it is an oral condition that can affect your child’s airway and breastfeeding ability. Our Scotts Valley family dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry share on the blog today how a tongue-tie can affect your child’s overall health and what to expect in terms of treatment.
What is a tongue-tie?
A tongue-tie is a hereditary oral issue that develops in the womb. An ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, has a thick or overly short frenulum restricting tongue movement. A frenulum is a thin tissue band that connects from the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. Our Scotts Valley pediatric dentists explain that the connection limits tongue movement and can cause problems with speech, eating, or speaking, prohibiting proper growth and development. A pediatrician or your child’s doctor can provide a diagnosis, but a lactation consultant may be the initial person to uncover your child’s tongue-tie when troubleshooting breastfeeding issues.
How does a tongue-tie affect breastfeeding?
After your child is born, you may hope for smooth sailing when breastfeeding. Unfortunately, a tongue tie can keep your child from making an open mouth seal, and when the seal fails to occur, the child can’t get enough suction. According to our Santa Cruz family dentists, a tongue-tie can interfere with latching, resulting in the child using their gums and lips. Unfortunately, the situation encourages poor oral habits and may cause pain for you. As conditions develop, inactivity can lead to decreased milk production and cause your baby to feed frequently or not get enough milk.
What are the long-term effects of untreated tongue-tie cases?
Children that manage to pass the breastfeeding phase with a tongue tie may still suffer negative oral effects in the future. Our Los Gatos pediatric dentists explain that when you choose not to treat your child’s tongue-tie, you could subject them to problems with dental occlusion or bite alignment.
According to Stanford Children’s Health, oral biomechanics and speech articulation may suffer impacts from tongue-tie. For example, learning speech patterns should not be a challenge for most children, but an untreated child may struggle to pronounce words properly. Although some health care providers believe that the frenulum will stretch, research is emerging that states it consists of collagen cells that will not stretch.
What treatments are available to address my child’s tongue tie?
Some practitioners prefer to wait and see how the child develops. However, our Scotts Valley pediatric dentists may recommend a frenectomy to release the lingual frenulum. The procedure is simple, quick to perform, and can be completed in one office visit. Common side effects include a mild amount of bleeding. After the procedure, you will need to stretch the tissue for three to four weeks post-op to prevent it from growing back. Unfortunately, babies and parents struggle with the process, but it is necessary for the best results.
Tongue-tie Treatment in Los Gatos, Santa Cruz, and Scotts Valley, California
Your child’s tongue-tie may not seem like a big deal and can remain untreated. Unfortunately, the condition can result in poor oral development, nutrition deficiency, speech complications, and advanced oral health conditions. If your baby struggles while breastfeeding or your toddler struggles to pronounce words correctly, it is time to contact your child’s physician or our Scotts Valley dental office, Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry. Please call us at (831) 438-4411 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.