The frenulum is a normal soft tissue structure under the tongue that connects the lip to the gums. When a child is born with a short or thick frenulum that is tethering the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth, it is called tongue-tie (ankyloglossia). This condition affects about 4–11% of newborn babies and can cause a restriction in the normal movement of the tongue that makes a good latch difficult during breastfeeding, which, in turn, can lead to painful feeding for the mother and fussiness or poor weight gain in the infant. Bottle-fed babies with tongue-tie can also experience issues with feeding, although this is not as common.
If your child is diagnosed with tongue-tie, many pediatricians will refer you to an oral surgeon for a simple procedure called a lingual frenectomy to release the frenulum. A lingual frenectomy is a common and safe procedure that improves feeding in tongue-tied children and prevents associated problems down the line. We perform lingual frenectomies safely and gently in our North Conway and Littleton, NH, offices using a special laser on the frenulum to correct the restricted movement and allow the lip and tongue to move freely and normally immediately following the procedure. Soft tissue lasers are used for numerous procedures in and around the oral cavity — they cause less discomfort than other methods, promote a faster healing time, and decrease the risk of post-surgical infection.
When tongue-tie is not surgically corrected, developmental issues may occur as the child grows, affecting the way he or she eats, speaks, and swallows, sometimes leading to an increased chance that the child will require future medical or other treatment. If left untreated, tongue-tie can lead to
- Breastfeeding problems that can cause significant pain for the mother and/or interfere with a baby’s ability to get enough breast milk.
- Tooth decay and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis).
- Orthodontic issues such as a gap or space between the two bottom front teeth.
- Difficulties with common oral activities such as licking an ice cream cone, licking the lips, or playing a wind instrument.
Lingual frenectomies are also performed on toddlers or older children who need the surgery to help correct speech issues. Occasionally, a frenectomy is required in children or even adults to aid with orthodontic treatment or help with the proper fitting for a denture or appliance. This procedure is called a labial Frenectomy.
To help our patients and their families feel more at ease about the procedures provided at our practice, we have provided videos from patients who have undergone treatment. We encourage you to explore the videos on our Patient Stories page.
Frenectomy in North Conway and Littleton, NH
If your child has been recommended for treatment for tongue-tie or is showing signs of the condition, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Williams so that your child can receive timely treatment for normal, healthy feeding. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have about tongue-tie and frenectomy procedures, or to schedule an appointment. We are here to help you receive the compassionate and skilled oral surgery care your child deserves.