Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia)

Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition that restricts the tongue's range of motion.

With tongue-tie, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue's tip to the floor of the mouth. A person who has tongue-tie might have difficulty sticking out his or her tongue. Tongue-tie can also affect the way a child eats, speaks and swallows, as well as interfere with breast-feeding.

Sometimes the lingual frenulum loosens over time and tongue-tie resolves on its own. In other cases, tongue-tie persists without causing problems.

If necessary, tongue-tie can be treated with a simple surgical procedure called a frenotomy. If additional repair is needed or the lingual frenulum is too thick for frenotomy, a more extensive procedure known as frenuloplasty might be an option.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Symptoms of tongue-tie include:

  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
  • Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
  • A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out

When to see a doctor

If your baby is having trouble breast-feeding, talk to your baby's doctor or a lactation consultant.

Similarly, consult the doctor if your older child complains of problems with his or her tongue — such as trouble reaching the back teeth — or you're bothered by your own symptoms of tongue-tie.

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