Ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie

Ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, is a condition in which the lingual frenum is unusually short, restricting the movement of the tongue.

The tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth by a membrane called the lingual frenum or lingual frenulum. A small percentage of children are born with a condition called ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, in which the frenum is unusually short, restricting the movement of the tongue. It was once thought that this condition caused speech disorders, hence the use of the term "tongue-tied" referring to people who are at a loss for words.

The tongue of a child with tongue-tie may have a groove down the center toward the tip.

At one time doctors considered it necessary to correct tongue-tie by clipping the frenum. The procedure (frenulectomy) is quick and simple, and can be done without anesthesia.

A severe tongue-tie can affect the child's ability to produce speech sounds that require raising or extending the tip of the tongue, including /t/, /d/, /l/, /s/, /z/, and /th/. However, in most cases, children can learn to produce these sounds using alternate articulations. It is more common for tongue-tie to interfere with nursing than with speech.

If a child with a tongue-tie is experiencing speech problems, a frenulectomy on its own will not correct the problem. Speech therapy is necessary following the procedure to help the child learn the new tongue placement habits required to produce clear speech sounds. A frenulectomy will not correct language disorders, stuttering, or mutism.

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