A “tongue tie” is a condition in which the tongue has a limited range of motion. The small piece of skin (lingual frenulum) that connects the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth causes this condition. With a tongue tie, the frenulum is abnormally short or thick, which makes it difficult to move the tongue fully.
Typically, tongue ties are common with children. This is because tongue ties are present at birth, so they can interfere with breastfeeding. If a tongue tie creates issues with feeding, doctors will usually recommend a simple procedure to correct the tongue tie.
However, if the tongue tie doesn’t cause problems, it may go unnoticed initially. It is possible that a child will later develop difficulties that relate to the tongue tie. For example, it can cause issues with speaking, eating, and swallowing.
In children, you may notice them having difficulty swallowing or sucking. As they get older, you may see them have trouble sticking their tongue out or touching the tip of their tongue to their upper teeth. When they stick their tongue out, the tip may be heart-shaped or have a small divot.
A tongue tie can cause speech problems that a speech pathologist may identify. You or your child may have a hard time playing certain winded musical instruments. Also, a tongue tie makes it difficult to reach the back teeth with the tongue.
When you speak, you use a variety of elements in your mouth. This includes your teeth, tongue, jaw, and more. Many sounds require a specific tongue placement for you to speak them correctly. If you have a tongue tie, you may be limited in the sounds you make without difficulty. This means that a tongue tie can cause a speech impediment. For example, a tongue tie can affect “l,” “r,” “s,” “t,” “th,” “z,” and more.
If you have a problem with a speech impediment, you can utilize speech therapy in order to help limit the issues. This may involve tongue and speaking exercises to train your mouth and tongue. However, you can undergo a simple procedure that can release the tongue tie. A qualified medical professional can perform a frenectomy to restore the tongue’s range of motion.
We may not notice it, but the tongue plays a role in your oral health. After we eat, many of us use our tongues to remove food from various places in our mouths, including between our teeth. With a tongue tie, you lack the ability to reach all the places in your mouth. If you cannot swipe the food particles from your mouth, you can increase your chances of developing tooth decay or gum disease.
The bacteria in your mouth feed on the leftover food particles, helping them to multiply. Additionally, they create an acid that will wear away the protective enamel. Also, if the food lingers in your gum line, it can cause irritation or gingivitis. Without proper care, this can advance to gum disease.