Can ankyloglossia be prevented?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

There is no known way to prevent ankyloglossia. If you have a family history of ankyloglossia, also known as tongue-tie, early diagnosis and treatment give the best chance of keeping symptoms to a minimum. When ankyloglossia is diagnosed in your child, quick decisions on treatment options will minimize any long-term effects of the condition.

Shari Green
Dental Hygiene
No, ankyloglossia cannot be prevented. The best prevention is to have the tongue monitored regularly by medical and dental professionals to determine if the child is at risk for any potential compensatory activities.

Many professionals have observed older children with ankyloglossia have difficulty with a variety of issues. These include: chewing food properly because they are unable to use the tongue to "flip" or propel the food easily to the molars, tipping the head back or sideways as they try to move the food back to the molars to chew, using copious water to wash food down at mealtime, having difficulty self-cleaning food from the back teeth should some food actually arrive in the vicinity of the back teeth, and possible speech concerns/social concerns.

A tongue tie in many instances impedes a child's ability to transition to a typical vertically based swallow pattern around age 4-6, as the tongue may be fibrous, taut, or thick at the base and usually has a limited range of motion, thus causing many children to adopt compensatory measures in order to swallow food and beverage, such as sustaining a more downward and forward thrusting based swallow or resting pattern. In addition, research is beginning to explore if there are any possible connections between potential growth and development of the jaw and bite concerns due to a low postured tongue rest position and tongue thrust swallow pattern, which may be associated with these compensatory muscle activity patterns.

In the newborn, difficulty nursing is usually attended to by a lactation consultant who is often one of the first professionals after the pediatrician to notice the potential ramifications of a tongue-tie's existence. This allows pediatric professionals early on to assess any potential preventable concerns, and act accordingly.

Should the decision be made by a medical or dental professional to consider surgical intervention in the school-age child, orofacial myofunctional therapy is often recommended in an effort to help promote increased mobility and improve tongue rest/swallow patterns shortly thereafter. This may help prevent the untoward effects of and decrease the possibility of excess formation of undue scar tissue, which could once again have the potential to diminish mobility and sustain the very compensatory activities the child exhibited that were a concern prior to the surgery.
Diana K. Blythe, MD

There is no way to prevent ankyloglossia, or tongue-tie, so please do not blame yourself. It does run in families, so if your new baby is not latching properly and you have another child with a tongue-tie, ask your pediatrician to look for a tongue-tie. The earlier that it is fixed, the less likely there are to be problems.

There is no way to prevent ankyloglossia. It is something that can be outgrown. If you have a family history of ankyloglossia and are worried about your baby having it, tell your doctor. Your doctor can advise you on treatment of ankyloglossia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.