Tongue-tie Laser Surgery FAQ
If your baby has tongue-tie, it’s important that you consult with your primary care physician or qualified pediatric dentist as soon as possible. They can help you determine if your child’s case is severe enough to warrant tongue-tie corrective surgery.
The dental team at Kingma Pediatric Dentistry have provided below some of the frequently asked questions we get about tongue-tie laser surgery. If you have any additional questions, we recommend you speak with your child’s pediatric dentist to determine if tongue-tie laser surgery is the best option.
What is tongue-tie?
Tongue-tie (also called ankyloglossia) refers to when a baby is born with a narrow strip of tissue connecting the tip of their tongue to the bottom of their mouth. Normally, this connective tissue is meant to dissolve in the womb, but tongue-tie still occurs in approximately 4 per 1,000 births.
What causes tongue-tie?
The exact cause of tongue-tie is unknown, but many suspect it has something to do with genetics. Tongue-tie has been known to run in families.
Does tongue-tie go away by itself?
Some pediatric tongue-tie cases significantly improve by age 3. However, this is not indicative of all tongue-tie cases. If you notice that your infant is not able to properly breastfeed and is losing weight, you may be referred by a lactation consultant to an experienced pediatric tongue-tie dentist. Untreated tongue-tie can lead to issues with breastfeeding, eating solid foods, and speech development.
What happens during tongue-tie laser surgery?
For the tongue-tie laser procedure, your child may be put under general anesthesia if they are more than six months old. However, each case is different. In newborn babies, you can often get away with not administering any painkillers because there are very few nerve endings in the area that needs to be cut.
During surgery, an experienced pediatric dentist uses a laser to cut through the connective tissue (also called the frenulum) between the tip of your child’s tongue and the bottom of their mouth. The pediatric dentistry laser works to free the tongue from being tethered to the bottom of the child’s mouth.
What happens after tongue-tie laser surgery?
After your child’s laser surgery for tongue-tie, you will be asked to be present while your child wakes up. It’s normal for your child to be a bit groggy. We recommend that you hold your child’s hand while they wake up from being under general anesthesia or provide them with a favorite toy or stuffed animal. This way, you will be able to reduce some of their anxiety and help them feel safe.
As with any sedation dentistry, you will need to keep your child home from daycare or school to monitor their breathing. Be prepared for your child to be groggy, sleepy, nauseous, or dizzy while they recover from being put under general anesthesia.
What’s the recovery time for tongue-tie laser surgery?
Laser tongue-tie surgery allows for a short recovery period. This is because the laser cauterizes the wound as it cuts. Short recovery periods are ideal for children because it allows them to quickly heal with a minimum of fuss.
A reputable tongue-tie laser dentist will be able to provide instructions for how to stretch your baby’s lips and tongue in the weeks after the procedure to prevent frenulum reattachment.
What are the alternatives to tongue-tie laser surgery?
Tongue-tie surgical options include scissors or lasers. In general, parents tend to prefer tongue-tie laser surgery because of the faster post-surgical healing.
If you are interested in consulting with our Grand Rapids pediatric dentist for tongue-tie laser surgery, please feel free to call us at (616) 942-9840. Kingma Pediatric Dentistry is dedicated to helping patients maintain good oral health through quality pediatric dentistry services.