What are Tongue Ties?
This is a general term that refers to a specific type of tethered oral tissue. Tethered oral tissues occur when the thin membrane either under the tongue, near the lips, or cheeks restricts the normal range of motion. Under the tongue, this thin membrane is also known as the lingual frenulum and if restricted is termed ankyloglossia. About 3-15% of babies are negatively affected by tethered oral tissues and are unable to move their tongues freely. Most tongue ties also involve other oral tethers that add to the dysfunction. Examples of this are lip (labial) and cheek (buccal) ties. Tethered oral tissues if strong enough can combine to cause dysfunction. This can negatively affect a baby's ability to breastfeed and latch correctly. As a result, this can cause nipple pain and trauma, decreased milk intake, and eventually a decline in supply. In children, a tongue tie can contribute to eating difficulties, speech difficulties, and breathing difficulties. In adults it can cause speech difficulties, breathing difficulties, TMJ pain, neck and shoulder pain, and headaches.
How are Tethered Oral Tissues Diagnosed?
In order to diagnose dysfunction, a multidisciplinary approach should be taken. For newborn babies, it is essential to involve a lactation consultant that is well educated in tethered oral tissues and their effect on nursing or bottle feeding. An IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) is best equipped to do this. Once a baby has been evaluated and all options explored, an oral tether release may be indicated. If tethered oral tissues are missed or untreated in infancy, they can be diagnosed and treated later in life at any stage of growth and development.
How are Tethered Oral Tissues Treated?
For all patients, we are proud to offer the most advanced form of treatment available using the Solea CO2 laser. This is a non-contact laser that gently removes tissue with minimal bleeding, discomfort, and scarring. It is the gold standard in soft tissue laser procedures. How we use the Solea laser to complete treatment depends on the patient's age and level of cooperation. All options will be discussed in depth during the consultation phase of treatment.