The lingual frenulum is the piece of tissue that holds the tongue to the bottom of the mouth and assists with movement of the tongue when eating, drinking, and speaking. If the frenulum is too short and thick at birth, this is referred to as anklyoglossia or tongue-tie.
In this case, the frenulum actually limits the baby’s ability to move the tongue and can cause a number of problems, including issues with breastfeeding, gas, and colic. In a small number of cases (about 15%), if untreated, anklyoglossia will lead to speech problems. Fortunately, if your baby suffers from anklyoglossia, a lingual frenectomy can be performed to free their tongue and solve these problems.
Now, you might be thinking, “How can I tell if my child needs a lingual frenectomy?” Even before your child’s first teeth come in, you may notice problems associated with anklyoglossia.
These include issues with breastfeeding, such as:
Because the tongue is restrained to the bottom of the mouth, your baby may have difficulty latching properly, which can cause problems with consuming enough milk. This can also allow air to pass into your baby’s mouth during feeding, which can lead to excessive gas and worsened colic symptoms, due to gas in the belly.
There is also some evidence that anklyoglossia may be associated with tooth decay, especially on the cheek side of the molars. However, most parents will want to bring their children in for treatment before even the first tooth comes in. For most children, this procedure is chosen to relieve suffering from excess gas and to treat problems with nursing that can arise due to tongue-tie, and other measures like cleanings and fluoride treatments are used as preventive measures for tooth decay.