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Tongue-ties affect an estimated ten percent of the population. For many infants, this can cause early childhood difficulties with breastfeeding and other developmental concerns. While tongue-tie release is often performed on infants, there are many cases where the condition is not noticeable until the child is older. Many toddlers and even school-age children may have problems due to a tongue-tie and may benefit from treatment. If you know the signs to look for, you can determine whether a tongue-tie is affecting your older child.

What Causes a Tongue-Tie?

Tongue-ties occur when the frenulum, the membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth, is too short. This restricts the movement of the tongue, which can affect many oral functions. Children and adults with a tongue tie are born with this condition, but it does not always affect them as infants. Tongue-ties are a congenital condition that tends to run in families and is more common amongst children assigned male at birth.

Signs of Tongue-Ties in Children

If a child does not have symptoms of tongue-tie as an infant, it will likely be noticed when they begin to learn to speak. Tongue movement is critical to make certain sounds, and children with tongue-ties often have speech impediments. How short or tight the frenulum is will determine how pronounced the symptoms of a tongue-tie appear. Some of the signs that can alert you to a tongue-tie in your toddler or older child include:

  • Difficulty making certain sounds – the most common are SH, TH, L, R, T, N, Z, and D
  • Cannot stick out the tongue or lick easily
  • Children may have delayed speech
  • Dysphagia – trouble swallowing
  • Sleep and breathing disorders – sleep apnea or snoring

Children with a tongue-tie can struggle with more than licking an ice cream cone or pronouncing certain words properly. Since it can impact their breathing, they may not get enough oxygen and have other developmental issues as they get older. If not treated in childhood, this condition can contribute to many issues as a teen and adult. This can include TMJ disorders, dental conditions, migraines, shoulder pain, inability to swallow pills, and much more.

Treatment for Children with Tongue-Ties

The good news is that releasing a tongue-tie can be completed quickly and virtually painlessly since we numb the frenulum before the treatment is performed. Laser tongue-tie release can be performed in less than a minute, and recovery is almost immediate for most children. There is little to no bleeding, unlike procedures completed with a scalpel.

If you notice signs of a tongue-tie in your toddler or older child, it is worthwhile to have their tongue examined. If a tongue-tie release is needed, come see our team at the South Carolina Tongue-Tie Center. We offer minimally invasive laser treatments for infants, kids, teens, and adults. Call our clinic in Charleston, SC, to schedule an appointment.

Posted on behalf of South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

538 Savannah Hwy
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: 843-654-0459


Monday - Thursday: 8am - 5pm
Friday: 8am - 2pm

Our Patient Reviews

South Carolina Tongue Tie Center

4.7 / 5.0

Based on 5 reviews

  • Talia H.

    Great experience with my visit to Dr. McPhearson and Carrie, hygienist. Dr. McPhearson is so patient, kind, and a perfectionist. She cares deeply that you have a great dental visit every time.

  • Maham A.

    I saw Dr. Caitlin McPherson and she is absolutely amazing. Not only does she make sure that everything is beautiful and functional, but she also treats every patient and their concerns with the utmost kindness.

  • Frankie W.

    Dr. McPherson is absolutely the best I highly recommend her and her team for all of your dental needs.

  • Phillip R.

    Everyone is so nice and they all seem to have good comradery. Mallory, Taylor, and Dr. Caitlin McPherson definitely know what they're doing!

  • Kyle A.

    The staff is always friendly & Dr McPherson does a great job every time!

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