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Parenting comes with a portfolio of challenges and concerns, and among these is the health and well-being of our little ones. An issue that might be overlooked is tongue tie, a condition that can affect your child’s feeding and speech development. As we navigate this topic, let’s explore the signs that could indicate the need for tongue tie surgery in children.

Understanding Tongue Tie

A tongue tie, known medically as ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. A short, thick, or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. 

Now, why should we concern ourselves with this? But, it can interfere with breastfeeding, eating, swallowing, and eventually speaking. It’s not the most common of issues, but it’s important enough to have on your radar.

Feeding Difficulties

One of the first signs that can alert you to a potential tongue tie is difficulty with feeding. Infants with this condition may struggle to latch onto the breast or a bottle. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Prolonged Feeding Times

  • Frequent Feeding With Minimal Weight Gain

  • Excessive Fussiness During Feeds

  • A Clicking Sound While Feeding

  • Difficulty in Latching Onto the Nipple

Oral Movement Limitations

As a parent, you’ll also want to observe your child’s oral movements. Limited tongue mobility can be a telltale sign of tongue tie. Watch for:

  • Inability to stick out the tongue past the lower front teeth

  • Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving it from side to side

  • The heart-shaped or notched tip of the tongue when sticking it out

Speech Difficulties

Speech is a complex process that requires precise movement of the mouth and tongue. A child with a tongue tie might experience delayed speech or difficulty pronouncing certain sounds — typically, those that require the tongue to touch the roof of the mouth, like “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “n,” and “l.”

Some Notable Speech Concerns Include:

Watch for these red flags in your child’s speech development:

  • Unclear speech

  • Difficulty pronouncing certain consonants

  • Slower development of speech compared to peers

Remember, not every child who is a late talker has a tongue tie, and not every child with a tongue tie will have speech difficulties. However, if you notice any of these signs and have concerns, it may be worth consulting with a professional.

Trusted Dentist

When it comes to your child’s oral health, including potential issues with tongue tie, it’s essential to have a trusted dentist on your side. Dentistry services in Pinehurst offer comprehensive care for the whole family, ensuring that your little ones receive the expert attention they need for their teeth and beyond.

Whether it’s for routine check-ups or specific concerns like a possible tongue tie, a trustworthy dental team can guide you through the necessary steps.

Other Signs of Tongue Tie

We’ve covered feeding and speech, but other signs can emerge as your child grows:

Jaw and Dental Development

Tongue ties can have an impact on the overall development of the jaw and teeth. A restricted tongue can contribute to high-arched palates, crowded teeth, and even issues with the way the jaw develops. If you’re hearing about teeth grinding or noticing that your child’s teeth are coming in crowded or misaligned, a tongue tie might be part of the conversation.

Impacted Social Interactions and Self-esteem

Kids can be self-conscious about the things that make them different, and having a tongue tie can affect more than just their physical health. They may become shy about speaking or avoid certain social situations.

If you notice your child hesitating to engage with others or showing signs of low self-esteem, it might be linked to frustration or embarrassment from tongue-tie challenges.

Family Dentist

For many of us, our family dentist is like a partner in our healthcare journey. With expertise in treating patients of all ages, family dental care professionals are well-versed in identifying and managing tongue ties. They can provide assessments, advice, and referrals to specialists if necessary, creating a comfortable environment for both you and your child.

When Surgery Is Considered

If the signs are there and your dentist or doctor concurs, consider tongue tie surgery, also known as a frenectomy. This procedure involves releasing the frenulum to free up the tongue’s movement. It’s usually recommended when the tongue tie is causing significant problems with feeding, speech, or oral hygiene.

But rest assured, it’s a quick and often straightforward procedure. And in terms of comfort and precision, tongue tie laser surgery is at the forefront, offering a less invasive option with minimal discomfort and quicker healing times compared to traditional methods.

Preparing for Surgery

If you’re leaning towards surgery, it’s important to be well-prepared. Here are some things to consider:

  • Gathering information about the procedure and post-operative care

  • Determining whether the surgery will be performed by a dentist, an ENT specialist, or a pediatric surgeon

  • Discussing pain management and recovery expectations

The Role of Aftercare

Post-surgery, aftercare is crucial for healing and to prevent reattachment of the frenulum. This might include:

  • Exercises to promote mobility and healing

  • Follow-up appointments to monitor progress

  • Supporting your child through any discomfort in the days following the procedure


As parents, we always want what’s best for our kids, and addressing a tongue tie can be part of ensuring their health and happiness. If you’ve noticed some of the signs mentioned, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your dentist or healthcare provider. By staying vigilant and proactive, we can help our children overcome the challenges associated with tongue tie and watch them thrive in all aspects of their development.