You know when you’re speaking too quickly and your words pile up in a slur of confusion? Many people call this “tongue-tied”, but tongue-tie is actually a more serious condition that often requires a frenectomy (or tongue-tie revision) to restore the full ability of the tongue.
The frenulum of the tongue (the piece of skin under the tongue that connects it to the bottom of the mouth) is intended to grow thinner as a person ages. In some children, the frenulum doesn’t thin out as much as it should, which causes a tongue-tie condition.
What are the symptoms of tongue-tie?
- Inability to stick out the tongue
- Unable to touch the roof of the mouth with the tongue
- Trouble moving the tongue around the mouth
- Some may have V-shaped notch at the tip of the tongue
When a child suffers from tongue-tie, we offer a simple procedure called a revision.
Before tongue-tie treatment:
Tongue-tie revisions have very low records of complications, and this procedure can be performed as early as the day of birth! If symptoms of tongue-tie are present in a child, we may recommend that the child endures a tongue-tie revision to gain full functionality of his or her tongue. (As a quick test, caregivers or parents can assess whether the child can lick an ice cream cone or lollipop with ease. If they can’t, then it may be time to consult Dr. Sierra or another specialist in tongue-tie revision.)
During the tongue-tie treatment:
We will explain the procedure in detail to ease any worries you or your child may have. Older children who understand the procedure often report no pain or discomfort at all during their revision! With younger children, parents are welcome to hold their child or wait outside of the room during the procedure as babies sometimes cry when their mouth is opened in a tongue-tied condition.
To ensure that your child’s procedure is as comfortable as possible, we will apply a numbing cream to the area. Using a laser, Dr. Sierra removes the frenulum tissue so gently that it causes virtually no bleeding. In most cases of tongue-tie, stitches are not necessary.
After the tongue-tie treatment:
Following your child’s tongue-tie procedure, he or she is allowed to nurse or feed immediately! Discomfort in your child’s mouth typically goes away after 24 hours, or 48 hours for older children.
With babies, breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact yield a natural form of pain relief. Your child may benefit from medication, like acetaminophen (Tylenol) for the first 24 to 48 hours, but natural healing techniques prove to be an effective form of pain relief. (What you give your child is entirely up to your personal decision and what you’re comfortable with.)
If you decide to give your child medication, we ask that you please check with Dr. Sierra or your pharmacist to determine the appropriate doses and to ensure that the medication is right for your child.
If your child bleeds after the procedure, apply direct pressure to the tender area to stop the bleeding. The areas where the revision was completed will be white or yellowish in color; this is normal! It is not indicative of an infection, and it may take a few weeks for your child to heal fully.
(Consider stretching exercises to reduce the risk of the frenulum reattaching!)
Though this procedure is relatively simple, tongue-tie revision can drastically improve the quality of your child’s life by restoring speech, nutrition, tongue movement and self-esteem!