Ask a Dentist

Q: My baby has connective tissue between their tongue and jaw that’s preventing tongue movement. What’s going on?

Baby sticking out its tongue

A: Your baby may have tongue-tie or ankyloglossia. When a baby has tongue-tie, the connective tissue between the base of the tongue and the lower jaw, called the lingual frenum, is too tight or short. Tongue-ties are easy to miss, especially if you’re bottle-feeding your child. Let your dentist know as soon as you spot the tongue tie, and they may refer you to a physical therapist.

Tongue-tie is a hereditary condition that may affect the shape of your baby’s mouth and face. If tongue-tie is not treated early, your child might develop speech difficulties, ADHD-like symptoms, mouth breathing or sleep apnea later in life. Mispronunciation of ‘r’ and ‘i’ are also potential symptoms of tongue-tie.

Tongue-tie is treatable by applying a local anesthetic to the area and surgically cutting through the lingual frenum with a laser, scalpel, or scissors. The procedure lasts only a few minutes, and patients heal within a couple of weeks. Pre-surgery and post-surgery tongue exercises with a physical therapist help speed up the healing process.

You won’t know if your baby has tongue-tie for sure until you ask a specialist. Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist the next time you’re in for a check-up. Our dentists in Winnipeg can help, book an appointment today at either of our clinics located at St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.