Frenectomy / Tongue Tie

 

laser dentistry – laser frenectomy sydney- tongue tie
Laser Frenectomies and tongue ties

What is a tongue tie?

Everyone has a muscle attachment (frenum) that connects their lips to their gums. However, when this attachment is too close to the teeth, it can cause a gap (diastema) in between the teeth, usually the front upper teeth and the front lower teeth. Braces or orthodontics will not be able to close the gap without the fibrous frenum being removed.

The frenulum is a piece of tissue that attaches the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. You can see your frenulum in the mirror by opening your mouth and sticking your tongue out and up. When the frenum attaches close to the tip of the tongue and restricts its movement it is referred to as tongue tie.  The position of this attachment is quite variable and requires training to determine if it affects tongue movement.

Feeding

In a baby, tongue tie affects their ability to move their tongue properly and may affect breastfeeding. This occurs because the baby unable to extend their tongue out and underneath the nipple to create the proper suckling action. The frenulum may look like a string that holds the tongue in place. You can see your frenulum in the mirror by opening your mouth and sticking your tongue out and up. Many babies can find it difficult to breastfeed if they are tongue tied.
A posterior tongue tie or submucosal tongue tie restricts the tongue from lifting upwards and can make it look like the child has a short tongue. Like an anterior tie, it can be released very quickly and without any complications.

Babies may also have an attachment under their upper lip which restricts the upper lip from flanging and creating a good seal on the breast. This attachment can come down to the ridge where the baby teeth will erupt and hold the upper lip down. Often this results in a blister forming in the middle of the upper lip. Freeing the upper lip tie allows the lip to turn upwards and rest comfortably on the breast creating a better seal.

Tongue-tie is one of the reasons a baby may be experiencing problems with breastfeeding. Early treatment usually results in a significant improvement in feeding for both the child and mother. Lactation specialists, early childhood nurses and speech therapists will often see this and can advise if a laser frenectomy or tongue tie revision is necessary.

Speech

A person with a tongue tie will commonly have a reduced ability to move their tongue and may not poke their tongue out as far as a normal person. Some children may be able to speak well and have normal speech but they sometimes find it difficult to articulate well. This can cause a child to be introverted or shy or scared of public speaking. When a speech problem is recognised it is advisable to have the tongue assessed. Adults may have no speech problems but sometimes get the frenulum caught between their lower front teeth which is annoying and painful.

Other Consequences

While the most common problems are with feeding and speech, the restricted tongue movement can make it difficult to remove food debris in the mouth. This can be a cause of tooth decay or jaw problems. The tongue can appear heart or fork-shaped which can make a person feel self-conscious.

Got Questions? Ask Dr. Pang

Laser Treatment of tongue tie or frenectomy

The conventional surgery to release frenums/frenulums is quite traumatic, painful and can take a long time to heal. With lasers we can quickly, precisely and almost painlessly remove the tissue making it more comfortable for you. There is minimal bleeding afterwards, no sutures and hardly any discomfort. Children go to school the day after and adults can go back to work the same day. Eating is normal and a baby will suckle immediately after the procedure!

Laser treatment of tongue-tie is safe for babies and Dr Pang frequently treats newborns and babies that are only several weeks old. A baby can often suckle immediately after the procedure!