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What is Tongue-Tie and How Can Laser Dentistry Help?

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Tongue tie can make it more difficult or even impossible for your child to breastfeed and may also cause other ongoing issues, such as speech impairment. Fortunately, this condition is easily diagnosed and corrected.

What is tongue-tie?

Tongue tie can be present at birth. It’s characterized by an issue with the lingual frenulum, a small band of tissue that connects the underside of your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. In babies who have tongue tie, it can be an unusually short, thick, or tight band, or it may be attached too far up near the tip of the tongue.

What causes a tongue tie, and what are the symptoms of one?

The lingual frenulum usually separates before a baby is born, which allows the tongue to reach nearly every part of the mouth. In cases of tongue tie, however, this band of tissue stays attached to the bottom of the tongue. It’s not completely understood why this happens, but the condition can run in families, so it may have a genetic component.

Tongue tie can cause the following symptoms, some of which occur in infants and others that can affect adults if the condition isn’t corrected:

  • Difficulty latching on and breastfeeding
  • Difficulty with normal speech development
  • Difficulty with self-cleansing the mouth during eating
  • Difficulty with kissing or licking ice cream
  • Clicking or pain in the jaws
  • Protrusion of the lower jaw
  • Greater tendency to have inflamed gums and dental decay
  • A large gap between two of the incisors
  • Difficulty brushing and flossing

Why is it important to have my child’s tongue tie fixed?

Having your child’s tongue tie corrected is a simple procedure that yields many benefits. It can help make breastfeeding more successful, allowing mother and child to bond during the experience. The baby will be adequately nourished, and the mom will feel less pain during breastfeeding.

In addition, tongue tie should be fixed because its effects go far beyond breastfeeding and last throughout life. Serious long-term issues can develop, such as speech impairment and increased tooth spacing and other dental issues.

What is laser dentistry and how can it help with tongue tie?

This type of dentistry allows your dentist to use to a laser, which delivers energy in the form of light, in certain procedures. Laser dentistry can help your dentist precisely vaporize tissue.

When it’s used to correct tongue tie, laser dentistry makes the procedure – which is known as a frenectomy – very straightforward and successful. The tongue is elevated to stretch and expose the frenulum, and the dentist uses a laser to release the frenulum. The laser sterilizes on touch, reducing the risk of infection. It works very quickly and causes almost no bleeding or discomfort. In fact, some babies and children actually sleep through the procedure.

Are there any risks associated with laser dentistry?

The risks associated with laser dentistry are small. Tissue can be damaged if the dental professional uses the wrong wavelength or power level.

If your child has tongue tie, make an appointment today with Park Avenue Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics in Manhattan. Our NYC practice has led the way in gentle dental care for more than 30 years, and our dentists are well-qualified and experienced in utilizing laser dentistry as well as other techniques.

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