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Children Tongue Ties

child tongue tieSan Francisco and Marin CA

Have you ever heard of ankyloglossia? This is the clinical term for a tongue tie, a condition that limits the range of motion in the tongue. Living with an undiagnosed tongue tie has a host of potential major negative consequences for a child, affecting the ways they grow, eat, speak and breathe. Glen Park Dental wants parents in San Francisco and Marin and the surrounding areas of California to know the warning signs of a tongue tie in children, as well as how our team of oral health professionals can help treat this condition.

What happens when you have a tongue tie?

People with a tongue tie are born with this condition. It occurs when the lingual frenum, which is a band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is too short and impedes the movement and function of the tongue.

Many tongue ties are identified and treated before an infant reaches their first birthday. However, for children that still are living with tongue ties, this restricted range of motion in the tongue has multiple and often cascading effects.

Four areas where a tongue tie negatively affects a child


When you swallow, the tongue naturally lifts up against the roof of the mouth. A tongue tie, however, keeps the tongue from lifting as high as it would otherwise.

Symptoms: Difficulty swallowing, or making choking or coughing sounds when eating, especially with foods of a certain texture. Also watch for a hyperactive gag reflex, making a slurping sound when eating or excessive drooling.


When a person is not eating, speaking or swallowing, the tongue should be at rest by pressing gently against the roof of the mouth, with the tip of the tongue making gentle contact against the back of the front teeth. This is impossible for someone with a tongue tie, as the tongue remains low in the mouth. This creates a possible obstruction in the airway.

What to watch for: Improper resting posture of the tongue greatly increases the likelihood of mouth breathing, snoring and eventually developing a case of obstructive sleep apnea. Loud snoring is common with children who live with a tongue tie. Mouth breathing also can affect the development of the face, jaw and dental arches, potentially creating a narrow upper jaw or a higher than normal roof of the mouth.


You need to have full use and movement of the tongue to speak properly, clearly and distinctly.

What to watch for: Problems enunciating the letters R, L and S, in particular. A tongue tie also can delay development of speech, lead a child to speak softly or mumble, or have a hoarse voice or nasal tone when they speak. Children with a tongue tie also have been diagnosed with an articulation disorder.

Oral health issues

Your tongue unconsciously will sweep your teeth and gums, clearing off food particles both during meals and after you eat. If your tongue cannot move as it should, this sweeping is more difficult and less effective. As a result food particles can accumulate in the mouth, providing fuel for the bacteria and plaque that create cavities and cause the bacterial infection that leads to gum disease. Meanwhile, posture issues with the tongue and subsequent issues with development of the jaws and facial structure can make it difficult for teeth to emerge properly in the mouth, leading to a misaligned bite or even TMJ disorder.

Treatment of tongue ties

Dr. Kimberlee Dickerson, one of our dentists on staff at Glen Park Dental, specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tongue ties. If she detects a tongue tie, she can release that tie by performing a frenectomy with the use of our soft tissue laser. The laser vaporizes the targeted tissue, immediately cauterizing the incision to minimize bleeding, make treatment time complete in a matter of seconds and significantly lower any risk of an infection.

Myofunctional therapy

We often prescribe a course of myofunctional therapy for children who receive a frenectomy, as part of the general plan of after care for patients of this age. This is because, after living with limited tongue movement for years, a person unconsciously develops negative habits to compensate for the restricted range of motion. These habits may include tongue thrust, a speech impediment or difficulties with swallowing, just to provide a few examples. Myofunctional therapy re-trains the tongue and the orofacial muscular system to correct those negative habits. The therapy consists of performing a series of simple exercises, which can be completed in a matter of minutes. Regular completion of these exercises over the course of treatment, which usually lasts six months, helps the patient improve orofacial function.

Treating tongue ties in children in San Francisco and Marin in California

To find out more about how Glen Park Dental treats tongue ties, our frenectomy procedure, or to have your child evaluated for a tongue tie, schedule a consultation today. Just call (831) 438-4411 or contact us online.