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"Understanding Frenulotomy: The Procedure and Benefits of Tongue-Tie Release"

Happy Baby

Frenulotomy: Releasing a Tongue-Tie for Improved Function

Frenulotomy, also known as tongue-tie release, is a minor surgical procedure that addresses a condition called ankyloglossia, more commonly referred to as tongue-tie. This condition affects the lingual frenulum, a thin piece of tissue that connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In cases of tongue-tie, the frenulum is unusually short and tight, restricting the tongue's range of motion.

The most common application of frenulotomy is in newborns who experience feeding difficulties due to their tongue-tie. The restricted movement can make it challenging for them to latch and suck effectively, leading to frustration for both the baby and the caregiver. Symptoms in breastfeeding babies may include poor weight gain, frequent short feeds, and nipple pain for the mother.

The frenulotomy procedure itself is quick and simple. Typically performed by a Midwife and/or tongue-tie specialist practitioner, it involves snipping the frenulum with sterilised scissors. The procedure is often painless for newborns as they require minimal anesthesia, and healing is usually rapid.

Deciding on Frenulotomy

The decision to perform a frenulotomy depends on the severity of the tongue-tie and the resulting feeding problems. Not all tongue-ties require intervention. If a baby is feeding effectively and gaining weight appropriately, the frenulum may naturally loosen over time. However, a Midwife/Tongue-Tie Specialist can assess the severity of the ankyloglossia using standardised scoring systems and consider factors like the baby's latch, sucking technique, weight gain, and maternal nipple pain. This comprehensive evaluation helps determine if frenulotomy can improve the breastfeeding experience for both mother and child.

Infant tongue-tie
Lingual Frenulum Tongue-Tie

Beyond Infants: Potential Applications in Adults

While frenulotomy is a well-established procedure for tongue-tie in infants, research on its effectiveness in adults is ongoing. Tongue-tie in adults can manifest in different ways compared to newborns. Some adults with ankyloglossia may experience speech difficulties, such as problems with articulation or pronunciation, particularly with sounds requiring significant tongue movement. Others might have restricted tongue mobility that affects oral hygiene or causes discomfort.

However, the benefits of frenulotomy for these concerns require further investigation. Studies on the effectiveness of frenulotomy in improving speech or oral function in adults are limited, and more research is needed to establish clear guidelines for its use in this population.


In conclusion, frenulotomy is a safe and effective procedure for addressing tongue-tie in infants experiencing feeding difficulties. By releasing the restricted frenulum, it can improve latching, sucking, and overall feeding success. However, it's important to consult with a Midwife/Tongue-Tie Specialist to determine if frenulotomy is the right course of action for your child. They can assess the severity of the tongue-tie and its impact on feeding, and discuss the potential benefits and risks of the procedure. For adults experiencing difficulties potentially related to tongue-tie, consulting with a speech-language pathologist or other healthcare professional can help explore alternative treatment options while research on the use of frenulotomy in this population continues to evolve.

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