Tongue Tie & Lip Tie Treatment - Washington D.C.
A condition called ankyloglossia, more commonly known as tongue-tie, can limit the tongue’s range of motion. Tongue-tie occurs when the strip of tissue that anchors your tongue to the bottom of your mouth is too short or tight. Though this issue is most commonly diagnosed and treated in babies, we can also perform frenectomies in older patients preparing for braces or even dentures. Capitol Oral & Facial Surgery Center offers laser frenectomies to patients in Washington D.C. and surrounding communities.
How is Tongue-Tie Diagnosed?
If your child is tongue-tied, you’re not alone. According to the National Health Service, it’s a relatively common condition that affects between 4 and 11 percent of newborns, more commonly boys than girls. While it isn’t usually painful, tongue-tie symptoms can cause problems with breastfeeding, speaking, and cleaning your teeth.
- Trouble Breastfeeding - Breastfeeding requires a strong and coordinated tongue movement to remove milk from the breast. Infants with tongue-tie may have difficulty latching on to the nipple, leading to pain for the mother or poor milk transfer. This can ultimately cause malnutrition or dehydration in the baby. Listen for a clicking sound when your baby is breastfeeding, which may signify that they have a tongue-tie.
- Speech Problems - People who have tongue-tie may have difficulty making certain sounds, such as “t,” “d,” “z,” and “l,” and they may also have a lisp. This can interfere with normal speech development in older children. Tongue-tie may also contribute to childhood apraxia of speech, which makes it hard to produce the motor movements necessary for clear speech.
- Poor Oral Hygiene - Tongue-tie can make it difficult to move your tongue around your mouth, which may lead to poor oral hygiene. Gaps or misalignment in lower front teeth can also develop and cause an increase in cavities, gum disease, and periodontal problems.
- Challenges With Oral Activities - In addition to speaking and maintaining good oral hygiene, people with tongue ties may have difficulty performing other oral activities, such as licking a stamp, kissing, or playing a wind instrument. Most cases of tongue-tie are benign and don’t require treatment. However, more severe cases may require a simple procedure called a frenectomy.
Types of Frenectomies
Labial Frenectomy - The labial frenum is attached to the upper lip between your two upper front teeth. A labial frenectomy may be necessary in some patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment because the frenum is pushing the teeth apart or interfering with proper alignment. In other cases, the labial frenum may need to be removed prior to orthodontic treatment because too much space exists between upper teeth before the eyeteeth have erupted. Removing or contouring the frenum allows the teeth to move together by removing the obstruction. A labial frenectomy may also be recommended for patients who wear dentures. A prominent or enlarged labial frenum can cause dentures to fit poorly or remain loose. The fit and retention of a denture can be significantly improved through a surgical release or frenectomy for these patients.
Lingual Frenectomy - When the frenulum that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short or tight, it can restrict the normal motion of the tongue. In some cases, the frenulum may even attach all the way to the tip of the tongue. The presence of a very restrictive lingual frenulum is also called ankyloglossia, or a tongue-tie. It is a congenital anomaly in some people that can result in speech problems, difficulty eating, hygiene issues, or lead to bite deformities. After a lingual frenulectomy, patients often experience significant relief and gain the ability to mobilize the tongue well beyond what was possible before the procedure.
The Frenectomy Procedure
A frenectomy is a straightforward surgical procedure in which the frenum is excised or contoured. It can be performed with a scalpel or with a laser. It may be performed while the patient is under local anesthesia or with intravenous sedation for complete comfort. A frenectomy is typically recommended when the anatomy in question is causing problems such as pain, interruption of normal function, disruption of orthodontic mechanics, interfering with dentures, or causing difficulty with eating, swallowing, or speech.
Schedule A Washington D.C. Frenectomy Consultation
If you feel your child may be having difficulty latching while breastfeeding caused by a tongue or lip tie, contact our friendly staff today. We perform a thorough exam of your child’s oral health and will create a plan to meet their needs.