Medical science has made some tremendous advancements. We can transplant a heart and replace an entire face. But, controversy still exists concerning the best way to treat or manage a baby or child who has tongue-tie. Ankyloglossia is the medical term for tongue-tie.
Medical science has made some tremendous advancements. We can transplant a heart and replace an entire face.
But controversy still exists concerning the best way to treat or manage a baby or child who has tongue-tie. Ankyloglossia is the medical term for tongue-tie.
It takes place when the tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short. When this tissue, called the lingual frenulum, is too short, the tongue is tied down.
There are varying degrees of severity of ankyloglossia. More symptoms are present the shorter the frenulum because the tongue has less mobility. However, how to manage a patient with ankyloglossia is not always straightforward.
Studies concerning the effects of tongue-tie differ. Studies have shown ankyloglossia is associated with difficulty breast feeding and problems with articulation.
There may also be problems with feeding because of the inability to propel food in the backward direction. Also reported is enlargement of the lower jaw and a space between two of the lower teeth.
Other reports indicate that, with time, the frenulum stretches and the symptoms that were present go away.
Because of the varying degrees of severity, each child needs to be treated on an individual basis.
The more severe cases may require a frenulectomy, releasing the frenulum that is tying down the tongue. Some physicians believe that a frenulectomy should also be done in moderate cases of ankyloglossia. The surgery is done on an outpatient basis and is a short procedure.
Laser treatment has also been used to release the frenulum.
A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of a frenulectomy in babies who had significant ankyloglossia. Two groups of infants with significant tongue-tie were evaluated. One group had a frenulectomy and the other did not.
Results showed that the babies who had a frenulectomy had significant improvement in their ability to breast feed compared to those who did not have the procedure.
Management of a baby or child who is tongue-tied depends upon many factors and can range from watchful waiting to surgery.
Therefore, it is important that you discuss the various options available with the child's doctor before deciding the child's treatment.
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.