Ankyloglossia, or tongue tie as it is more commonly known, is a condition characterized by an abnormally short web, or lingual frenum, between the bottom of the tongue and floor of the mouth. This condition is often noticed during infancy when limited tongue movement inhibits the ability to breastfeed, take a bottle or use a pacifier. The feeding difficulties can lead to a loss of weight for the infant, necessitating immediate surgical treatment for this problem.
Even when tongue tie does not cause immediate problems, opting for surgical intervention may be beneficial for your child’s future well-being. Learning all you can about choosing surgical correction for this condition can help you make the best medical decision for your child.
Surgical Intervention Techniques
The surgical procedure for posterior tongue tie involves the completion of a small incision through the lingual frenum to restore the tongue’s natural full range of motion. Barring complicating factors, the procedure can be performed on an outpatient basis without the need for general anesthetic. Alternatively, you can elect to have the condition treated through laser surgery or electrocautery using either local or generation anesthetic.
Since the tongue web is usually just a small strip of tissue, the treatment procedures are relatively painless, and result in very little bleeding. The recovery period for the procedures is usually just a few days at most. If you elect to have tongue tie surgically treated, you can expect your child to be able to breastfeed or drink from a bottle normally within 24 hours.
Dangers of Foregoing Treatment
If the tongue tie condition does not cause your child feeding difficulties, you may want to forego treatment until complications with eating or speaking arise. To best make this choice, it is wise to understand the risks of delaying or denying treatment for tongue tie.
Without treatment, children often experience difficulties with learning how to properly speak on an age-appropriate schedule due to the lack of oral muscle control. The minimized tongue movement may also impede normal breathing patterns and could even potentially contribute to an increased risk of SIDS.
In most cases, limited tongue web tissue causes this condition, but rarely, involvement of the genioglossus muscle may be the main cause or a complicating factor. When muscle involvement is identified, simply snipping back the lingual frenum will not fully resolve the condition.
If this is the case, your infant may need additional surgery in the future to free the restrictions while protecting the associated muscle strength and coordination. Otherwise, the ability to speak clearly may end up compromised even after reversal of the tongue tie. For this reason, it is important to always have suspected tongue tie assessed, so you can determine if pursuing treatment is the right choice for your child’s health.
Acquiring Surgical Treatment for Posterior Tongue Tie
If you suspect your child’s feeding difficulties relate back to tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, feel free to schedule an appointment with our clinic by calling 770-479-9999. We will assess your child’s tongue movement abilities and overall health condition to help you choose the best course of treatment.