How Ankyloglossia Can Affect Dental Health: Risks and Solutions

How Ankyloglossia Can Affect Dental Health: Risks and Solutions

May 1, 2023

Ankyloglossia (also known as tongue-tie) is a condition in which the lingual frenulum, the band of tissue that connects the tongue’s underside to the mouth’s floor, is shorter, thicker, or tighter than normal. This limits or restricts the tongue’s range of motion, which can lead to various dental issues as well as speech, feeding, or sleep issues.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie

Symptoms of ankyloglossia can range from mild to severe. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Difficulty latching when breastfeeding

  • A heart-shaped tongue

  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing

  • Inability to speak or pronounce words properly

  • Clicking sound when the child is feeding

  • Unable to touch the roof of your mouth

  • Difficulty moving the tongue up, down, or sideways

  • Difficulty licking ice-cream

  • Mouth breathing

Seek tongue-tie treatment near you if you or your child are experiencing these symptoms.

Dental Risks of Tongue-Tie

Tongue-tie may or may not cause any problems. As far as dental health is concerned, it can lead to:

  • Difficulty feeding or eating

  • Since the tongue tie affects the tongue’s normal movements, it can cause challenges while eating – gagging or being picky with certain textures. It can lead to further issues like nutritional deficiencies and impaired development.

  • Oral Hygiene difficulty

  • When the tongue’s movement is restricted, it can be challenging to remove food from the mouth naturally. It also makes it more difficult to brush and floss effectively. Poor dental hygiene can cause bacterial plaque and tartar buildup, increasing the risk of oral infections.

  • Dental problems

  • Since tongue-tie can cause teeth misalignments and difficulties chewing and cleaning your mouth, it increases your risk of oral problems like tooth decay, tooth loss, bad breath, oral thrush, and gum disease.

  • Teeth and jaw misalignments

  • Since the tongue plays a vital role in keeping the teeth in proper alignment during development, restricted tongue movements can lead to jaw and teeth misalignments. Consequently, these issues can further affect your bite function, speech, and oral hygiene and cause chronic pain, low self-esteem, and TMJ problems.

  • Speech problems

  • The tongue plays a crucial role in speech and communication. Restricted tongue movements can make pronouncing certain sounds like” r,” “t,” and “I” difficult, affecting how you communicate and express yourself.

  • Chronic pain and discomfort

  • Since certain activities like speaking and chewing require you to make more broad tongue movements, tongue-tie can result in mild to severe oral pain.

Treatment For Ankyloglossia

Treating tongue-tie can help prevent dental issues and improve your dental health and other oral functions. Based on the symptoms, your doctor can recommend the following solutions:

  • Frenectomy is a surgical procedure that involves cutting or releasing the tissue connecting the tongue to the mouth’s floor (lingual frenulum). It increases the tongue’s range of motion, allowing you to eat, speak, and perform other oral functions normally. The procedure can be performed using a laser or scissors.

  • Functional Frenuloplasty: In a functional frenuloplasty, a small incision is made in the frenulum, and then the tissue is reattached to allow for greater flexibility and movement. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia and takes around 30 minutes to complete. A functional frenuloplasty is generally considered to be a less invasive procedure than a complete frenectomy (where the frenulum is completely removed) and may be a good option for patients who want to preserve some or all of the frenulum.

  • Speech therapy. Since ankyloglossia can affect speech, speech therapy can help improve pronunciation and articulation, allowing you or your child to communicate more effectively.

  • Myofunctional therapy: It’s commonly recommended before and after frenectomy or functional frenuloplasty to help retrain the tongue and mouth muscles for better speech, breathing, and feeding. It’s essential for people or children with problems chewing, swallowing, or breathing through the nose.

  • Dental treatment: For individuals with ankyloglossia that have developed dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease, and misalignments, our dentist near Cadillac can provide the necessary treatment to restore their dental health and function and prevent future problems. It can include dental fillings, deep cleaning, and orthodontics.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Do you or your child have signs or symptoms of tongue tie? Dr. White treats all ages, from newborn to 100! Contact Brite White Dental to discuss your options for ankyloglossia treatment in Traverse City.

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