Tongue-tie, from embriology to treatment: a literature review

Maria Dezio, Alessandra Piras, Livio Gallottini, Gloria Denotti


The aim of this review is to create a complete analysis about tongue-tie (or short lingual frenum or ankyloglossia) according to the most important works published in literature. The analysis allowed us to do a complete evaluation of this problem, from embriology to the therapeutic approach we could use today, focusing our attention on laser-assisted therapy. This review is based on the research on the PubMed Database ( of studies about lingual frenum written in English between January 1980 and May 2014. The keywords inserted were “lingual frenum”, “frenectomy”, “laser therapy”. We have analyzed: case series, case reports, clinical studies, and also literature reviews in which embryology, physiology, diagnosis and treatment of ankyloglossia were described. We excluded laboratory studies, studies based on animal tests and studies about patients with particular syndromes in which we can also find tongue-tie. The selection criteria allowed us to select 42 articles. The treatment options for the releasing of the frenum are surgically represented by frenotomy (i.e. simple horizontal cut of this training) and frenectomy (i.e. removal). In both cases, the intervention on the short lingual frenum is simple, short-lasting, and without particular complications. Furthermore, this kind of treatment can be carried out with different devices: with the typical cold blade scalpel or by the use of laser, a new method that shows more advantages over the prior art. Laser-assisted therapy permits to intervene on newborns (from 0 to 20 days, when there are breastfeeding problems) without total anesthesia and suture. The Er:YAG, CO2 laser (according to literature data) and Diode laser (according to our experience) are advantageous, safe and effective in tongue-tie treatment.


tongue-tie; short lingual frenum; ankyloglossia; frenotomy; frenectomy; laser therapy

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