As a parent, one of your priorities is to keep your children healthy and happy. Preparing healthy meals, scheduling routine medical exams, and spending quality time with your child are all important parenting tasks. Unfortunately, your child may have been born with a condition that can affect their physical, emotional, and intellectual wellness. Considering an estimated 4 percent of babies are born with ankyloglossia, understanding this disorder is key to your child's health and wellness. Using this guide, you will understand ankyloglossia and learn the best options for treating your child's condition.
The 411 on Ankyloglossia
The lingual frenulum is a cord that connects the bottom of the mouth to the tissue under the tongue. Its main function is to allow the tongue to move for chewing, swallowing, and speaking. If this cord is too short, too thick, or too tight, mobility of the tongue will be restricted.
Also known as tongue-tie, ankyloglossia will cause your child to show the following symptoms:
- Inability of tongue to poke out past the lips
- Inability of tongue to touch roof of the mouth
- Inability of tongue to move side to side in the mouth
- Flattened, heart-shaped, or squared tip of the tongue
- Gap between front teeth in the lower jaw
Since touching the roof of the mouth is necessary to pronounce letters such as t, d, l, s, and z, a child with ankyloglossia may struggle speaking. Also, your child's tongue will also need to arch towards the roof of their mouth to articulate the letter r. If your child is struggling with saying certain letters or sounds, they may have tongue tie.
While surprising for many parents to learn, ankyloglossia can also affect your child's oral health. If your child has a shortened or tight lingual frenulum, they will be unable to move the tongue properly. This reduces their ability to move food and saliva from the mouth through the sweeping of the tongue and swallowing.
The buildup of food particles inside the mouth increases your child's risk of developing cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. In addition, many children with tongue tie suffer with halitosis, or chronic bad breath.
Treating your Child's Ankyloglossia
Ankyloglossia is not a life-threatening condition. However, treating the disorder is smart for improving your child's appearance, ability to eat, speech, and dental health.
A frenotomy is a common procedure used to correct tongue tie in children or adults. During a frenotomy, a doctor uses a pair of scissors to cut the lingual frenulum free. This procedure does not require a stay in a hospital, since it can be completed in the doctor's office with or without anesthesia.
After the frenotomy, your child may experience some light bleeding and swelling of the tissue under the tongue. Both the pain and swelling will quickly decrease, but your doctor may recommend giving your child acetaminophen to reduce any discomfort.
If your child's lingual frenulum is too thick or requires repair, a frenuloplasty may be necessary. The frenuloplasty is conducted under general anesthesia, allowing the surgeon to cut, release, or repair the lingual frenulum. This improves the mobility of your child's tongue. A frenuloplasty is effective and efficient, requiring about 10 minutes to treat your child's ankyloglossia.
Laser technology is now being used to correct ankyloglossia in a less invasive manner. The procedure can correct short, tight, or thick lingual frenulums without any surgical incisions or anesthetic. This is not only less time-consuming than traditional surgery, but correcting your child's ankyloglossia with lasers is a more comfortable option.
No matter which method you choose, your child will need to work with a speech therapist after treating their ankyloglossia. Speech therapy will teach your child to articulate the letters and sounds that were difficult before their tongue-tie treatment.
Proper understanding of ankyloglossia is imperative to ensure your child looks, eats, and speaks properly. With this guide, you will understand your child's tongue tie and learn the best options for treatment. You can click here to investigate a dental clinic that offers treatment for ankyloglossia.