Ankyloglossia, commonly referred to as a tongue-tie, is an oral condition that is present at birth and hinders the tongue’s natural range of motion. Typically, a thick, short and tight band of tissue, the lingual frenulum, attaches the skin beneath the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth.
Because of this condition, breastfeeding might become tricky as the baby is unable to open its mouth wide enough to properly latch on. Likewise, swallowing, speaking and lifting the tongue to perform any movement may also become difficult.
This phenomenon is more common than you might think with about 4 to 11% of babies being born with a tongue-tie.
At Gep TOTs Dentistry, our team diagnoses and treats, infants, children and adults with tethered oral tissues that include tongue- and lip-ties.
Dr. Phu-My Gep is experienced and certified in this field and has successfully performed countless tongue-tie treatment without surgery at the Gep Vaughan clinic. Using medically-safe lasers, this treatment has quick healing times and less post-operative pain.
How can you tell if a baby has a tongue-tie?
A tongue-tie might not always be easy to spot. Usually, this condition becomes evident when the infant experiences feeding problems. Some common signs of a tongue-tie include;
- Difficulty latching onto the breast or staying attached during feeding
- Not gaining weight as quickly as expected
- Emitting a clicking noise while feeding
- Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side or lifting it
- Difficulty sticking the tongue out
- The tongue has a notched or heart-shape when stuck out
Does a tongue-tie correct itself?
There are a few instances where a tongue-tie can improve without treatment by the age of 2 or 3 years. Moreover, there are cases where a baby with a tongue-tie may not be affected by it at all. In most cases, however, treatment is required to address the condition and ensure the infant doesn’t develop speech problems or lose on nutrition due to being unable to breastfeed properly.
When left untreated, this condition can be a source of frustration for you and your baby. The earlier a tongue-tie is corrected, the easier it will be moving forward.
Can a tongue-tie be fixed in older children and adults?
Absolutely! A lot of patients are older children and adults who undergo a Frenectomy to correct a tongue- or lip-tie.
Untreated tongue-ties cause problems as the tightness in the mouth area may intensify as the person develops. If the tongue-tie is severe enough to stunt one’s speech, speech therapy may also be recommended following the Frenectomy treatment.
What is a laser Frenectomy?
A laser Frenectomy, also known as a Frenulectomy, Frenotomy or tongue-tie release treatment, involves the use of a laser to excise the frenulum which, as discussed, is the small and thick fold of tissue that restricts the natural range of motion of the tongue.
Soft tissue lasers are ideal for cutting and coagulating the tissue during treatment. With soft laser treatments, usually, no anesthesia is required and it involves less bleeding and pain than using scissors. That way, your baby is not put through unnecessary discomfort.
The soft tissue procedure is simple enough and your infant is able to return home as soon as it is completed. The lasers are expertly designed to emit a therapeutic light that is naturally absorbed by the body.
How long does it take to recover from a laser Frenectomy?
After the procedure, a mother may be advised to breastfeed immediately as that helps calm the baby. With soft tissue lasers, pain and bleeding, if any, is kept to a minimum.
If you opt for other treatment measures, general anesthesia may be used and healing times can go up to 10 days.
Laser Frenectomy, on the other hand, requires no anesthesia and the treatment takes a couple of minutes. Healing typically occurs within 2 hours.
Does a laser Frenectomy hurt?
The frenulum is very thin and has a few nerves, this means that there is little to no pain associated with these types of treatments. With soft tissue lasers, specifically, the treatments are near painless.
Apart from destroying bacteria, this healing laser also promotes tissue regeneration and is, hence, completely safe for your baby. The laser cauterizes the wound as it works, reducing the chance of a bacterial infection.
Can you eat after a laser Frenectomy?
Surgical treatments use general anesthesia which is why doctors recommend not eating or drinking until the anesthesia has worn off.
With a laser treatment, no anesthesia is required. In many cases, mothers are encouraged to breastfeed right after the treatment so as to calm the baby.
According to The Journal of Human Lactation, about 80% of infants were feeding better within 24 hours of undergoing a Frenectomy.
For older children and adults, it’s recommended to avoid spicy, salty, very hot or cold foods or crunchy foods that can interfere with the treated area for at least 24 hours after the treatment.
Can a tongue-tie grow back?
After undergoing a Frenectomy, a tongue-tie cannot “grow back” per se, but it is advisable to keep up with the post-treatment exercises recommended by your doctor and attend all follow-up visits.
How much does a laser tongue-tie surgery cost?
Drawing broad strokes, a laser Frenectomy can range between $800 to $2,800 depending on the experience of the doctor, the reputation of the clinic and the specifics of the condition itself.
At Gep TOTs, our priority is to make treatments affordable and accessible while performing under the highest standards of medical excellence.
Don’t let a tongue-tie go undiagnosed and untreated. We encourage you to get in touch with us today for a consultation.
Is a laser Frenectomy covered by insurance?
OHIP doesn’t cover the cost of a tongue-tie surgery in Ontario, however it could be an eligible expense though your dental plan.
This depends on the insurance provider. A handful of dental providers do allow you to bill dental insurance plans so that you receive coverage.
This is because a Frenectomy could be regarded by some medical insurance companies as “medically necessary” in order to overcome the symptoms of a tongue-tie such as difficulty breastfeeding, speech impairments, and articulation problems.
Regardless, don’t assume anything. It’s safest to check with your provider before making a decision.
Gep TOTs Performs Safe and Affordable Tongue-Tie Releases
If you suspect you or your child has a tongue-tie or a health professional has suggested that your child has a tongue-tie, Dr. Gep can help!
Dr. Phu-My Gep at Gep TOTs Dental Group is experienced and certified to treat this condition. Dr. Gep is trained in using medical lasers to assist in quicker healing times and less post-operative pain.