A frenectomy is the technical term for a tongue-tie, which is an abnormality present from birth. When this occurs in newborns, the membrane linking the tongue to the floor of the mouth (lingual frenulum) is too short. Tongue-tie makes breastfeeding difficult and also can cause the infant to have problems latching and transferring milk efficiently. When the linking membrane is too short, it prevents the tongue from reaching beyond the lower gums. If your child was born with this condition, it is important to contact your ENT doctor to see what your options are.
There are a handful of symptoms that your infant may have that will indicate he or she has tongue-tie. These signs and symptoms are most often noticed during a routine baby exam, but it is important for you to be aware of them as well. The following are the most common signs of tongue-tie:
While tongue-tie is most commonly diagnosed during the beginning years of the infant’s life, it is important to keep an eye our for the above signs as your child develops. If you notice one or more of the above then it would be wise to get the child reviewed by your ENT doctor.
The correct treatment plan is somewhat controversial, as there are two different options with two very different schools of thought. On the one hand, experts advocate for the “wait and see” approach, which is rooted in the belief that certain behaviors will allow the child to develop normal speech over time.The second treatment option is surgery, or a frenulectomy. When performed by your ENT doctor, this type of surgery may help the child with its speech problem and also allow the child to avoid the social and cosmetic effects that are often associated with tongue tie. This is a simple procedure that takes only a matter of minutes from start to finish. It can be performed in the office without the need for sedation in newborns, but older children may require a general anesthetic.