Problems with Untreated Tongue Tie

Every individual is born with a small strip of skin that is attached to the tongue. This strip of skin helps hold the tongue in place. Unfortunately for some individuals, the strip of skin is shorter than normal. This is called ankyloglossia or, in common terms, tongue tie.

A tongue tie can present numerous problems if left untreated. The following will explore who is impacted by a tongue tie, what problems may happen as a result of an untreated tongue tie, and briefly explore what treatment options are available for tongue tie.

How Common is Tongue Tie?

It is believed that approximately 4-11% of all newborn babies are born with tongue tie. The severity of the tongue tie will vary. In some children, the strip of skin is only slightly smaller than normal, which will cause minimal problems in the future, while in other children the strip is significantly smaller.

Any child is likely to be born with a tongue tie. However, boys tend to develop it more than girls. It is also believed to run in families, but not always.

What Problems can Occur with an Untreated Tongue Tie?

An untreated tongue tie can create a number of problems that will impact your child from infancy to adulthood. The problems your child experiences now and in the future will vary depending upon the severity of the tongue tie.

Some of the problems that occur in infants with tongue tie include:

  • Inability to breastfeed
  • Failure to thrive as your child is unable to consume the right amount of food/formula
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Difficulty making the transition from formula to solid foods

Some of the problems that children with tongue experience include:

  • Difficulty chewing or consuming solid foods that are age appropriate
  • Occasional gagging
  • Potential for choking or vomiting when eating
  • Dribbling or spilling liquids from the mouth when drinking
  • Delay in speech development
  • Behavior problems
  • Dental problems such as extensive tooth decay or improper tooth growth
  • Developing bad habits that are used to compensate for the difficulties presented from the tongue tie

When not treated at a young age, your child will continue to experience problems with their tongue tie into adulthood. Some of the problems your child will experience as an adult with an untreated tongue tie include:

  • Inability to properly open their mouth when eating or talking
  • Development of speech problems that impacts self-esteem and confidence levels
  • Pain develops in the jaw
  • Garbled or unclear speech when he or she tries to speak fast, soft, or loud
  • Experiences dental problems that include tooth decay, cavities, and inflamed gums
  • Protrusion or misalignment of the lower jaw
  • Experiences frequent migraines

How is a Tongue Tie Treated?

Treatment for a tongue tie will vary depending upon the age of your child. In infants, the procedure is extremely easy and pain-free. A doctor or nurse will typically cut the piece of skin. No anesthetic is involved when doing this with infants.


The procedure is a bit more complex in older children. Children are often administered a general anesthetic so they will be asleep during the procedure. Once they are asleep, a nurse or dental hygienist will hole your child’s head while the doctor or dentist will use a laser or a pair of surgical scissors to cut the tongue tie.

Does a Tongue Tie Really Need to be Treated?

Whether or not to treat a tongue tie is often a personal choice. Some parents choose to have their child’s tongue tie treated in an effort to reduce the likelihood that any problems occur in the future. Other parents will often take the “wait and see” approach. They won’t treat the tongue tie, but if problems develop they will seek treatment for it.


For some children, problems develop very early on from the tongue tie. When this happens, treatment is suggested to help stop any problems that are present.


If your child has a tongue tie, the dentists at The Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida can help. Our dentists can assess the situation and determine whether treatment is needed for your child’s tongue tie. If treatment is recommended, we can perform a tongue tie revision right in our office.


Call us today to schedule an appointment to discuss potential treatment of your child’s tongue tie.