April 20, 2022
You don’t understand it. Your child should be old enough to talk and pronounce words correctly, but they just can’t. Maybe you’ve even worked with a speech therapist, and they tell you your child may have a tongue tie that has to be resolved to improve their issues. But what is a tongue tie, and how can it complicate speech? How is this condition treated? Get the answers to these important questions here!
What a Tongue Tie Is
While in utero, most babies have a frenulum, or tissue that connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth, that eventually goes away before birth. However, some babies retain this thick, restrictive tissue. Although many babies with tongue ties have a hard time breastfeeding, the problem can easily be overlooked or missed if they have been bottle fed.
How the Tongue Is Used in Speech
Not every child who has a speech impediment has a tongue tie, and not every child with a tongue tie has a speech impediment, but the connection between the two has been well studied and established!
You may not think much about it, but you use your tongue quite a bit when you talk. Certain sounds, including th, r, l, s, z, d, and t, depend on the tongue’s range of motion. Without the right movement, these sounds can become more muffled or slurred, and a speech impediment can start to develop. Your child may find it challenging to communicate clearly or face teasing from others as a result.
How Tongue Ties Are Treated
Fortunately, tongue ties are rather simple to treat. If your child does have a tongue tie that is impairing their speech, a specialist can perform a procedure called a frenectomy. In this treatment, the thick or restrictive tissue underneath the tongue is severed. This may sound painful, but with a soft tissue laser, the tongue tie can be released with very little discomfort. In fact, your child may not even need anesthetic!
Benefits of Treating a Tongue Tie
In addition to improving your child’s speech, a laser frenectomy is gentle, requires very little recovery time, and can have immediate results. With some assistance from a speech therapist, your child may be able to pronounce sounds with greater ease and overcome their impediment in just a short time.
In the end, if your child has a tongue tie and a speech issue, addressing the first could improve the latter. It is worth correcting the problem so that your child can feel confident talking and communicating with others throughout their lifetime.
About the Author
In addition to being a board-certified pediatric dentist, Dr. Maggie Davis has achieved Diplomate status with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. She has also earned certification in infant and pediatric tongue and lip ties, which is given by the American Board of Laser Surgery. If you would like to meet with Dr. Maggie to see if your child has a tongue tie, you can contact Florida Tongue Tie Institute online here or by calling the office at 727-786-7551.
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