ABC Medical Center > Tong-tie (ankyloglossia)

What is Tong-tie (ankyloglossia)?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a birth anomaly that limits the movements of the tongue, causing problems in the child when eating, speaking, or swallowing.

Generally, the lingual frenum is separated before giving birth so that the tongue can move freely, but when it is short, it remains attached to the bottom of the tongue, which can also affect the breastfeeding process.

The origin or cause of this pathology is unknown, but it is usually linked to genetic or hereditary issues. It occurs more regularly in boys than in girls.

Signs and symptoms Tong-tie (ankyloglossia)

Although on rare occasions tongue-tie does not cause discomfort, the characteristic symptoms consist of:

  • Overexertion to move the tongue and raise it.
  • Difficulty sticking out the tongue.
  • Cleft tongue that is shaped like a heart.

Potential risks:

Having a tongue-tie represents several significant complications, including:

  • Breastfeeding difficulties: unable to move the tongue or keep it in the correct position, the baby cannot adequately extract breast milk, so instead of sucking on the nipple, it bites it, causing pain in the mother and poor nutrition in the child.
  • Language and speech problems: the tongue, unable to rise, prevents the correct pronunciation of consonants.
  • Poor oral hygiene: problems removing food debris from the teeth, triggering the possible formation of cavities and gingivitis.
  • Injuries: Tongue-tie causes it to frequently rub against the lower teeth, causing injuries or sores.
  • Difficulty licking, kissing or blowing.

Diagnosis and treatment Tong-tie (ankyloglossia)

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination to assess the tongue and its range of motion.

The indicated treatment will depend on the difficulty of the tongue’s range of movement and the medical criteria since if the lingual frenum’s length is slightly less than normal, rehabilitation therapy with a speech therapist can help counteract the tongue’s mobility limitations.

Some pediatricians may suggest correcting this anomaly from infancy with surgery or allowing some time to pass to observe the evolution of the lingual frenum and, if necessary, a surgical procedure. The support of a lactation expert and a speech therapist may also be required.

Surgery includes two types of procedures:

  • Frenotomy: It can be performed with or without anesthesia because it is a quick surgery that causes slight discomfort. After this, the baby can breastfeed immediately. Although complications are practically null, infection, bleeding, and lesions on the tongue or salivary glands may occur.
  • Frenuloplasty: It is recommended when something else needs to be repaired in the mouth or the lingual frenum is too wide. This procedure allows the frenum release and the suturing of the wound with absorbable materials as the tongue heals. The possible risks are minimal, but infections, hemorrhages, and injuries to the tongue or salivary glands may occur.

At the Pediatrics Center, we provide specialized care to our small patients from birth to adulthood, through our pediatric, oncology, neurology, and cardiology services at the level of the best medical centers in the world.


  • Traub VV, Salas BG, Solé VP. Anquiloglosia: una mirada retrospectiva. Lat Am J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2021;1(1):26-30. doi:10.35366/101914.
  • Vélez-Cruz ME, León-Aguilar RA, Montoya-Pérez LA, et al. Frenilectomía lingual con mioplastia del geniogloso. Rev Mex Pediatr. 2021;88(2):67-70. doi:10.35366/101280.
  • Guinot JF, Carranza BN, Veloso DA, et al. Prevalencia de anquiloglosia en neonatos y relación con datos auxológicos del recién nacido o con otras malformaciones o enfermedades asociadas. Rev Odotopediatr Latinoam. 2021;11(1):41-50.
  • Robles-Andrade MS, Guerrero-Sierra C. Impacto de la anquiloglosia y la frenotomía lingual en la alimentación neonatal. Perinatol Reprod Hum. 2014;28(3):154-158.

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