It might be hard to believe, but tongue tie occurs in around five percent of all newborn babies, and even this figure may be underreported. Known as ankyloglossia, it can be a serious problem for a child’s ability to talk, eat, and if very severe, even breathe. Fortunately, there are treatment options for this condition, including laser frenectomy which The TOT Spot and our lead doctor, Ann Bynum, is well renowned for.
But what is tongue tie exactly and what are the causes of tongue tie in the first place? This article will answer the most common questions about tongue tie in babies. To start, let’s take a look at how the mouth tissue in babies with tongue tie is different than the tissue in babies without tongue tie.
What Is Tongue Tie In Babies?
The tongue develops while a baby is still in the womb and it will develop according to certain genes that the parents pass on to the baby. The frenulum is an important part of the tongue. It is a thin membrane under the tongue that can extend down to the bottom of the mouth.
While this membrane may seem too meager to do anything, it is actually very important when it comes to giving the tongue a wide range of motion. In babies born with tongue tie, the frenulum is usually either too long or too short. The result is that the baby will have a very limited range of motion of his or her tongue.
This lack of motion can interfere with breastfeeding or bottle-feeding as well as the development of speech. Ankyloglossia may be of different severities and it is classified based on where the frenulum attaches to the tongue.
The mother of the child may be able to notice the symptoms of tongue tie before anyone else through breastfeeding. Because babies born with tongue tie have a harder time breastfeeding, they will not be able to properly attach their mouths to the mother’s nipple. As a result, the mother’s nipple may suffer from pain and damage due to improper latching.
A baby with tongue tie may also have difficulty gaining weight and even lose weight due to the inability to get enough milk from the mother. If you notice your baby is losing weight because of feeding issues, it is important to see a doctor familiar with tongue ties or a lactation specialist.
Causes and Complications of Tongue Tie
Scientists believe that the causes of tongue tie are largely genetic. However, the exact cause of tongue tie is still unknown. Some believe that it may have to do with certain dominant genes that cause abnormalities in the frenulum before birth.
Some parents may wonder if leaving a tongue tie alone is a good idea or if it is always necessary to correct tongue ties. The problem with leaving tongue ties unaddressed is that they can lead to complications throughout a child’s life. As mentioned before, weight gain can become one of the first problems a child with tongue tie may experience.
The complications, however, do not stop there. tongue tie may change the way the tongue rests in the mouth which, in turn, can lead to some orthodontal issues such as crooked teeth. While a child with tongue tie should have no problems learning how to speak, the condition may impact the way the child is able to pronounce particular words.
While the frenulum of a child with tongue tie may be able to stretch somewhat with the passage of time, the complications associated with tongue tie will never completely go away. The only way to fix tongue tie is through treatment such as traditional or laser frenectomy. But what does a frenectomy involve in the first place?
What Is Laser Frenectomy As A Treatment for Tongue Tie?
Traditionally, tongue tie was treated by taking a scalpel to the frenulum which would free it from the bottom of the mouth and allow for a greater range of motion for the tongue. However, thanks to advancements in medical technology, the scalpel is no longer necessary. The procedure of laser frenectomy proves this since, instead of using a scalpel, the procedure involves a laser instead.
It may be easy to imagine a laser cutting through the thin tissue of the frenulum. However, the laser does not so much as cut rather than vaporize the tissue. The laser utilizes light energy which turns into heat when it comes in contact with tissue, allowing for the destruction of the tissue.
This tongue tie procedure, while it may sound intimidating, is actually very quick and relatively painless. More than that, there will be very little risk of infection and little to no bleeding.
Another benefit of laser frenectomy is that the healing process is very fast. Quickly after the procedure, a mother should be able to breastfeed. In fact, breastfeeding immediately after a procedure is often encouraged. This is because breastfeeding will quickly soothe the baby and breastmilk can promote the healing process as well. Don’t worry if the baby still can’t latch well after the procedure since this will improve with time. Following up in 1-2 days after a release with your lactation consultant is critical for the best success for Mom and baby.
Everything To Know About Tongue Tie And Laser Frenectomy
A tongue tie can be a significant obstacle for newborn babies who may have difficulty feeding, breathing, and speaking. Fortunately, treatments like laser frenectomy offered by The Tot Spot in Simpsonville, SC are quick, easy, and can fix the problem in no time at all.
To learn more about laser frenectomy for tongue tie, don’t hesitate to contact us here.