The bridle of the tongue is the hyoid fold of the oral mucosa, which connects the tongue to the bottom of the oral cavity. Its normal length in a stretched state in a 5-year-old child is approximately 8 mm, but not less than 5 mm. When the frenulum of the tongue is too short, the diagnosis is “ankyloglossia” (from the Greek words ankilos – curve and glossa – tongue).
The tongue itself can also be shortened, thickened, and at the very tip can have a central cleft. In very rare cases, it is spliced with the bottom of the mouth.
The exact causes of the short hyoid bridle are unknown. In addition to heredity, toxicosis in the early stages of pregnancy, antibiotics that expectant mothers have to take, and viral diseases transferred during the baby’s birth can be “guilty” of this.
The prevalence of ankyloglossia is approximately 1: 1000, and in boys it occurs 3 times more often than in girls. Up to 50% of children who have been diagnosed in this way have close relatives with the same defect.
Because of the many problems that this deviation causes, medical intervention is required. You should not worry too much: modern technologies turn the operation into a minute affair, and the discomfort that a baby can experience is quickly forgotten.
The doctors usually notice the short frenulum of the baby’s tongue while still in the maternity hospital at the first detailed examination of the newborn and are immediately trimmed with special scissors. Since the newly-born baby has no nerve endings in this membrane, the child does not feel pain and the manipulation is performed without anesthesia.
In doubtful cases, the Hazelbaker test is performed, which allows to evaluate the appearance of the tongue and its mobility. Assessing the parameters in points on a special scale, it is possible to say for sure whether the “dubious” bridle will cause problems for the child and whether it needs to be corrected.
In the case when the membrane is very elastic, surgery is not required.
If in the maternity hospital the defect was not noticed, the measures will have to be taken later. Parents in this case should be alerted by the problems that arise when attaching crumbs to their breasts.
For example, with a short bridle that interferes with the free movements of the tongue, the baby cannot hold the breast in the mouth for a long time, often interrupts, smacks and quickly gets tired. Due to the fact that the tongue is not fully involved, the child tries to “get” the milk from the breast, pressing on the nipple with his lips and gums, and is very tense. For this reason, he sometimes even develops muscle tremor.
And since during sucking the baby swallows a lot of air, he can begin abundant regurgitation.
Difficulties arise in the mother: due to insufficient stimulation of the breast, milk production may decrease.
When a short frenulum of the tongue does not prevent the crumbs from sucking their breasts, problems can show up at the age of 3-5 years. Since the membrane is too close to the edge of the gum, the tongue, moving during a conversation and when chewing, tightens and pulls the gum down.
Because of this, there is a risk of developing inflammatory diseases of the gums – periodontitis or gingivitis, the occurrence of abnormal bite; the necks of the teeth may also become bare, because of which the teeth will become too sensitive, and excessive salivation begins. In addition, the low mobility of the language will affect the pronunciation of hissing and sounds “m”, “n”, “p”, “l”.
In any case, without a visit to the dentist can not do. A doctor under local anesthesia will cut the bridle with either special scissors or a laser.
To avoid a scar after the operation, the child will have to exercise for the tongue for 4-6 weeks: push it forward, lick the lips, reach to the nose and chin, right and left. In severe cases, which rarely happens, a second operation may be required.