Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie) is a common abnormality in which a band of tissue, the lingual frenulum, attaches the front of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, and prevents full mobility of the tongue. Presence of the lingual frenulum is normal – however, when it remains attached at the bottom of the tongue after birth and limits the tongue's ability to protrude past the lower lip, it can cause problems. Mobility of the front of the tongue is important for functions including breastfeeding, speech and maintenance of oral hygiene.

Ankyloglossia is commonly diagnosed at birth when a baby has difficulty latching on and extracting milk efficiently while breastfeeding, causing pain for the mother. The condition generally does not affect a baby's ability to feed from a bottle. Often, children with tongue-tie share a family history of the condition with older siblings or parents. We urge parents of children with severe cases of ankyloglossia, even babies who are able to feed from breast or bottle, to have the lingual frenulum repaired in order to prevent future problems with speech.

Tongue-tie can be repaired through a simple procedure known as a frenulectomy, which we perform on infants safely and easily in-office. Babies older than six months as well as those with developing teeth must have the procedure performed with anesthesia. 

Recovery after frenulectomy is usually very quick - most babies are fine after they leave the office and do not need any treatment for pain. A finger massage to do at home after the procedure to ensure proper healing is demonstrated for parents before leaving.

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Weill Cornell Medicine Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery

1305 York Ave., Fifth Floor New York, NY 10022