The tongue is a primary organ of taste in the gustatory system. It helps in the manipulation of food and swallowing. A major function of the tongue apart from taste and mastication & swallowing is the enabling of speech in humans. Ankyloglossia or tongue-tie is a congenital anomaly in which there is an excessive attachment of the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth by means of a thick membranous tissue known as lingual frenum. When there is an excessive attachment of the lingual frenum to the floor of the mouth, it affects the functions of the tongue like speech, hygiene, and consumption of food which can be resolved by ankyloglossia treatment. The decreased mobility prevents it from contacting the palate during the pronunciation of some sounds causing speech difficulties.
In severe cases, there will be a development of prognathism of lower jaws due to the continuous anterior thrusting of the jaws during swallowing and speech. Treatment for this condition is of two types known as Frenotomy and frenuloplasty. A frenotomy procedure can be done in the doctor’s office. The doctor examines the lingual frenulum and then uses sterile scissors to snip the frenum free. The procedure is quick and discomfort is minimal. In some cases of Frenotomy, there might be a possibility for the frenulum to reattach to the base of the tongue. Frenuloplasty is a more extensive procedure. It is recommended when additional repair is needed or the lingual frenulum is too thick for Frenotomy. In this procedure after the frenulum is released, the wound is usually closed with absorbable sutures. Complications are rare with both of these procedures. After frenuloplasty, to reduce the chances of scarring and to enhance tongue movement, tongue exercises are recommended.
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A 7 yr old girl came to our hospital (Richardson’s dental & craniofacial hospital) with a complaint of decreased mobility of tongue along with difficulty in pronunciation of some words. Her parents were worried about her speech. On examination, there was an excessive attachment to the lingual frenulum. She was treated by a frenuloplasty procedure and normal movement of her tongue was achieved post-surgery.