Tongue-Tie Release

Dr. Stacy Reece of Advanced Dentistry of Kearney has extensive experience performing tongue-tie release surgery. Tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. At birth, the lingual frenulum is unusually short, thick, or tight binding the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. For some infants, tongue-tie interferes with breastfeeding. If left untreated, tongue-tie can affect the way a developing child eats, speaks, and swallows.

Causes of Tongue-Tie

Ordinarily, the lingual frenulum separates from the tongue before birth, but for some infants, the frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue. It is not entirely clear why this happens, but for some infants, this may be due to genetic factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie

Some babies with tongue-ties and lip-ties are able to attach to the breast and suck well. However, many of these infants have breastfeeding problems. The following signs are common amongst infants with tongue and lip-ties and their mothers. However, it is important to note that these signs can be linked to other breastfeeding problems and are not solely related to ties.

Infants may exhibit:

  • Noisy suckling or clicking
  • Popping on and off the breast
  • Leaking on the sides of the mouth
  • Poor weight gain
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Lip blisters
  • Gas pain
  • Noisy breathing/snoring sounds when sleeping
  • Reflux or colic symptoms

Mothers may experience

  • Flattened nipples after breastfeeding
  • Nipple pain and damage
  • Prolonged feedings
  • Poor breast drainage
  • Decreased milk production

Risk Factors for Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie is more common in boys than in girls. It is a condition that sometimes runs in families.

Complications of Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie can affect a baby’s development, as well as the way a developing child eats, speaks, and swallows.

Breastfeeding Problems. If an infant is unable to achieve a successful latch, this can ultimately lead to inadequate nutrition and failure for an infant to thrive.

Speech Difficulties. While tongue-tie doesn’t interfere with a child’s ability to speak, it can interfere with a child’s ability to make certain sounds such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r,”, and “l.”

Eating Problems. Tongue-tie can interfere with a child’s ability to lick ice cream or a lollipop. Even licking the lips, or playing an instrument can be difficult for a child with a tongue-tie condition.

Poor Oral Hygiene. Tongue-tie can prevent a child from being able to use its tongue to remove food debris from a tooth. Over time, this could lead to tooth decay.

Diagnosis of Tongue-Tie

During your consultation with Dr. Reece, she will examine the condition of your baby’s lingual frenulum to score various aspects of the tongue’s appearance and ability to move.

Many babies who have tongue-tie, also have lip-tie. Dr. Reece will often evaluate these together.

Treatment for Tongue-Tie

Not all children with tongue-tie need surgery. If Dr. Reece suspects that tongue-tie is causing problems for your child, she may recommend a surgical procedure.

Frenectomy. A frenectomy involves the removal of the frenum from the mouth. Dr. Reece can perform this procedure with a pain-free laser treatment. The laser cauterizes the wound as it cuts, allowing for a short recovery period.

Contact Us

If you suspect your child has a tongue-tie condition, contact Advanced Dentistry of Kearney at (308) 237-1311 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Reece.

Tongue-Tie Release FAQs

When should a frenectomy be done?

Dr. Reece recommends that tongue-tie release surgery be performed soon after a newborn is diagnosed because it will help alleviate any issues with breastfeeding.

Is anesthesia needed for tongue-tie release surgery?

For a frenectomy, a topical numbing gel may be applied once or twice before the procedure or a small amount of local anesthesia may be injected. Anesthesia is not always necessary for this procedure. 

How long does tongue-tie laser surgery take?

Typically, tongue-tie laser surgery takes 1 to 2 minutes.

How long does tongue-tie laser surgery take to heal?

It can take up to 2-4 weeks for patients to heal from tongue-tie laser surgery.

Is tongue-tie laser surgery painful?

Because there are few nerve endings in the area to be cut, the patient may experience only mild discomfort. If your baby is rather fussy after the procedure, talk to Dr. Reece about prescribing over-the-counter pain medicine.

Can a frenum grow back?

While a frenum cannot grow back, it can reattach if you don’t follow the after-care exercises Dr. Reece gives you to stretch your baby’s lips and tongue in the weeks after the procedure. These exercises will help prevent frenulum reattachment.

Are stitches required after tongue-tie laser surgery?

Stitches are not normally required for tongue-tie laser surgery in infants, as the laser neatly and precisely cuts the soft tissue. In procedures with older children and adults, sutures are commonly placed.

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