Have you ever heard of a person being “tongue tied?” We see it a fair amount at our Tigard pediatric dental office, both in children and infants.  It’s definitely pretty common.

Why Do Lip And Tongue-Ties Occur?

A lip or tongue-tie occurs when a thin tissue in the mouth called a frenum is overgrown. There are two kinds of frena in the mouth, labial (lip) frenum and the lingual (tongue) frenum. The labial frenum can be found in the center of the lips, connecting the inside of your upper and lower lips to the gum tissue.

Labial Frenum

Labial Frenum

You can see the tongue frenum by looking in the mirror and lifting your tongue up to touch the roof of your mouth.

Lingual frenum

Lingual frenum

The purpose of the frenum is to limit certain muscle movements to prevent tissue damage. When the frenum tissue is thick and excessive, however, it can restrict movement detrimentally (such as problems breastfeeding or tongue thrusting).

What Problems Can Arise As The Result Of A Tongue Tie?

A tongue tie restricts the tongue and prevents it from moving freely. Tongue ties may be moderate, resulting in only small inconveniences like not being able to lick an ice cream cone. In some cases, however, they cause severe impairments such as:

  • Difficulty breastfeeding as an infant
  • Speech impediments
  • Tongue thrust and bite misalignment

What Issues Can A Lip Tie Cause?

A lip tie refers to a frenum that attaches too far down on the gum. The possible complications of a lip-tie are somewhat similar to those who are tongue-tied. An overgrown labial frenum can cause:

  • Make it difficult for children to keep their teeth clean
  • Complicate breastfeeding
  • Result in misaligned teeth and bite (can be a gap between teeth)

A Frenectomy Helps Alleviate Tongue and Lip Ties

A frenectomy is a simple procedure that can be performed by dental professionals where excess tissue on the frenum is removed.  It can be cut and sutured traditionally, or done by a soft tissue laser.  We prefer the soft tissue laser whenever possible for healing purposes.

**Watch for a blog post detailing how a lingual frenum that is too thick can impede breastfeeding and what we can do about it**

Stay tuned!   We are here to help with any of these issues that should arise in your child.  

Dr. Eddie Lopez & the rest of Greenburg Pediatric Dentistry crew

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