Tongue-tie is a condition commonly found in newborns. Luckily, it can be easily treated by the expert and compassionate staff at Banner Children’s. We’re here to answer any questions you may have about tongue-tie and the treatment options available for your baby.
Tongue-tie occurs when the frenulum, a band of tissue below the tongue, restricts the tongue’s movement. Some tongue-tie conditions may not cause problems for your child, while others can lead to challenges with things like breastfeeding or speech development.
The tissue under the tongue is usually thin, but in some instances, it is thickened or constricted. This limits the tongues movement during eating and speaking. The main cause of tongue-tie is not known, but it’s important to notice the signs and symptoms of tongue-tie early.
Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie include:
Tongue-tie is diagnosed during a physical exam by your pediatrician. This is to ensure your baby’s oral development is not affected. Your pediatrician will see if your baby can move their tongue from side to side or if they can lift their tongue easily. Your pediatrician may use an assessment tool called TABBY (Tongue-tie and Breastfed Babies) or BTAT (Bristol Tongue Assessment Tool) to understand the tongue’s mobility.
Tongue-tie treatments can vary based on the severity of the tongue-tie and how it is affecting your baby’s health. Sometimes this tissue may loosen over time, and tongue-tie resolves on its own. More often, tongue-tie requires surgery to correct. There are two surgical options, including frenotomy and frenuloplasty. These options do not remove the frenulum but resolve tongue-tie by freeing the tissue that’s holding the tongue down. There are no long-term effects from these procedures.
Frenotomy is a surgical option for tongue-tie in which the tissue restricting motion is snipped. This procedure is quick and can be done with or without anesthesia. After the treatment is complete, you can go back to feeding your baby right away. Complete healing for a frenotomy can take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks.
Frenuloplasty is a surgical option for tongue-tie when the tissue is too thick and a frenotomy cannot be done. This surgery is performed under general anesthesia and surgical tools are used to cut the tissue and stitches are put in place. These stitches will dissolve on their own as the tongue heals. Your baby should be able to feed after surgery but consult with your pediatric specialist for detailed instructions.
Your pediatrician will talk with you to determine the best treatment option for you and your baby. At Banner Children’s, we are here to help keep your baby healthy along the path of childhood’s important growth milestones.