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Tongue-tie (Ankyloglossia)

August is national breast-feeding month. One of the reasons a baby may have trouble breast-feeding is due to the baby being tongue-tied.

What is Ankyloglossia (tongue-tie)?

Ankyloglossia is a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. A short, thick and tight piece of tissue called the lingual frenulum connects the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the bottom of the mouth, interfering with eating, speaking and swallowing. Usually the lingual frenulum separates before birth, but with tongue-tie it remains attached to the bottom of the tongue.

What are the symptoms of tongue-tie in babies?

  • difficulty attaching or staying attached for the duration of the feed
  • feeding for a long time with a short break before feeding again
  • seeming hungry all the time
  • not gaining weight as they should
  • making a clicking sound when they feed
  • biting or teeth grinding
  • vomiting right after feeds

Other Symptoms:

  • difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving it from side to side
  • difficulty sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
  • tongue appears notched or heart-shaped when stuck out

If not treated, tongue-tie may lead to:

  • Breast feeding problems: To breast-feed, a baby needs to keep his/her tongue over the lower gum while sucking. If the baby is unable to move their tongue to keep it in the correct position, the baby may chew instead of suck on the nipple which interferes with the baby’s ability to get milk.
  • Speech difficulties: tongue-tie can interfere with the ability to make certain sounds including: “t”, “d”, “z”, “s”, “th”, “r”, and “I”.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Tongue-tie can make it difficult to remove food from the teeth which increases the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis. It can also lead to formation of a space or gap between the two bottom front teeth.
  • Other oral activities: Tongue-tie can interfere with licking ice cream cones or lips, kissing and/or playing a wind instrument.

You should see Dr. Zaugg if:

  • your baby has signs of tongue-tie (having trouble breast-feeding)
  • a speech language pathologist thinks your child’s speech is affected by tongue-tie
  • your child complains of problems with eating, speaking or reaching the back teeth

How do you correct tongue-tie?

If a tongue-tie is diagnosed by Dr. Zaugg, the next step is to correct the problem. Dr. Zaugg will perform a simple laser procedure (called a frenulotomy) to cut the frenulum. It is a quick, simple procedure that can be done in 2-3 min and heal within 2 hrs. With the laser there is minimal bleeding, no risk of infection and often no anesthetic is needed.

*4-11% of newborn babies are affected by tongue-tie and it is more common in boys than girls


Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, will be experienced by everyone at one time or another in their life. Things that you eat such as garlic, onions, and some spices can cause bad breath and may have a lingering effect, but should only be temporary. Chronic or long term halitosis, can indicate other problems that need to be diagnosed and treated. These problems could include periodontal disease, tooth decay, buildup on toungue and decay under crowns or fillings. Bad breath can also come from digestive or respiratory problems. If you have experienced bad breath for a long period of time you may need to see your dentist or physician to diagnose your particular problem.

The most common contributor to bad breath is not cleaning efficiently around and in between teeth to remove food debris and odor causing bacteria. When food accumulates and is left for a period of time, it can create plaque (food and bacteria) and eventually calculus or hard deposits on your teeth. Regular professional cleanings and good home care will reduce or eliminate this bad breath in most cases. This can be achieved by brushing and flossing 2-3 times a day in combination with an ADA approved mouth rinse.

Your tongue is also a major contributor to bad breath. It has small grooves and fine hair-like projections that trap debris and bacteria. Your tongue needs to be cleaned each time you brush your teeth. This can be accomplished by brushing it or using a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers work well and sometimes have less of a gagging effect than a tooth brush. However, both methods are very effective and will help remove and eliminate the material causing the odors. Another common contributor to bad breath is chronic post nasal drip. This can be pronounced when allergies are present during different times of the year.

Regular hygiene cleaning appointments are important and will remove any build up around the teeth and below the gum tissue. An oral exam in conjunction with x-rays can help your dentist determine if any fillings or crowns are “leaking” which can allow food debris and bacteria a safe place to hide. If areas are found that need repaired, Dr. Zaugg can recommend the proper treatment to eliminate these hiding places and restore your teeth back to good condition.

Dental Anxiety and Phobia


Some people don’t look forward to dental appointments any more than they look forward to visits to a physician. Most dental procedures aren’t painful. However, just being examined can make people feel stressed.

Most people can live with having some anxiety about going to the dentist. For those with dental phobia, however, the thought of a dental visit is terrifying. They may be so frightened, in fact, that they’ll put up with gum infections (periodontal disease), pain, or even broken and unsightly teeth.

People often use the words “anxiety” and “phobia” to mean the same thing, but they are different.

Those with dental anxiety will have a sense of uneasiness when it’s time for their appointments. They’ll have exaggerated or unfounded worries or fears. Dental phobia is a more serious condition. It’s an intense fear or dread. people with dental phobia aren’t merely anxious. They are terrified or panic stricken.

People with dental phobia have a higher risk of gum disease and early tooth loss. Avoiding the dentist may have emotional costs as well. Discolored or damaged teeth can make people self-conscious and insecure. They may smile less or keep their mouths partly closed when they speak. Some people can become so embarrassed about how they look that their personal and professional lives begin to suffer.

People with dental phobia also may suffer from poorer health in general, and even lower life expectancy. This is because poor oral health has been found to be related to some life-threatening conditions, such as heart disease and lung infections.

There are varying degrees of dental anxiety and phobia. At the extreme, a person with dental phobia may never see a dentist. Others may force themselves to go, but they may not sleep the night before. It’s not uncommon for people to feel sick-or, in some cases, to actually get sick- while they’re in the waiting room.

Dental phobia, like other mental disorders, can be treated. Without treatment, dental phobia is likely to get worse over time. That’s partly because emotional stress can make dental visits more uncomfortable than they need to be.

People who are unusually tense tend to have a lower pain threshold. This means they may feel pain at lower levels than other people. They may need extra anesthetic or other pain treatments. They may even develop stress-related problems in other parts of the body. For example, they may have headaches or muscle stiffness in the neck or back.


People develop dental anxieties and phobias for many different reasons. When researchers interview patients, however, a few common themes emerge.

Pain- in a survey of people who had not seen a dentist for 12 months, 6% reported fear of pain as the main reason. The fear of pain is most common in adults 24 years and older. This may be because their early dental visits happened before many of the advances in “pain-free” dentistry.

Feelings of helplessness and loss of control- Many people develop phobias about situations- such as flying in an airplane- in which they feel they have no control. When they’re in the dental chair, they have to stay still. They may feel they can’t see what’s going on or predict what’s going to hurt. It’s common for people to feel helpless and out of control, which trigger anxiety.

Embarrasment- The mouth is an intimate part of the body. People may feel ashamed or embarrassed to have a stranger looking inside. This may be a particular problem if they’re self-conscious about their teeth look. Dental treatments also require physical closeness. During a treatment, the hygienist’s or dentist’s face may be just a few inches away. This can make people anxious and uncomfortable.

Negative past experiences- Anyone who has had pain or discomfort during previous dental procedures is likely to be more anxious the next time around.


There isn’t a clear boundary that separates “normal” anxiety from phobia. Everyone has fears and concerns and copes with them in different ways. However, the prospect of dental work does not need to fill you with terror. If it does, then you may need some help overcoming the fears.

Some signs of dental phobia include:

  • You feel tense or have trouble sleeping the night before a dental exam.
  • You get increasingly nervous while you’re in the waiting room.
  • You feel like crying when you think of going to the dentist. The sight of dental instruments- or of white-coated personnel in the dentist’s office- increases you anxiety
  • The thought of a dental visit makes you physically ill
  • You panic or have trouble breathing when objects are placed in your mouth during a dental appointment.

If this describes you, you need to tell Dr. Zaugg about your feelings, concerns and fears. He will help you overcome these feelings by changing the way you are treated. You may ever consider using sedation as a method for treatment to reduce or eliminate these feelings.

For more information on Sedation Dentistry and Relaxation Dentistry visit

Cracked Tooth

A tooth that is cracked can be painful and lead to disease of the tooth or fracture. How a tooth becomes cracked varies from individual to individual, but may be from chewing hard objects or foods (such as ice), an accident (such as a blow to the mouth), grinding teeth, uneven chewing pressure, loss of tooth structure through fillings, exposure of tooth enamel to extreme hot and cold, or brittleness of teeth with root canals. Regardless of the reason, decay from a cracked tooth can progress into the soft dentin of the tooth and cause an infection or abscess.

How We Can Help

Regular dental visits and professional teeth cleanings at Dr. Zaugg’s office can help keep a cracked tooth from getting out of control and infected. Dental fillings may last for many years before they need replacing. However, constant pressure from chewing, grinding or clenching may cause a filling to wear away, chip, crack or even fall out. During check-ups, Dr. Zaugg and his team will determine whether existing fillings are intact, or if any have cracked or worn away. Worn fillings should be replaced promptly before decay begins. Otherwise, the crack can go deep into the root and at times right into the nerve. Bacteria can attack the nerve, which then leads to extreme sensitivity to hot and/or cold in the tooth. The infection in the nerve can then spread into the bone underneath, causing an abscess.

In some cases, extensive tooth decay around an existing filling may leave little tooth structure once the decay is removed. Dr. Zaugg will most likely need to restore the tooth with a crown instead of a filling. A crown is a restoration that covers, or caps, a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen as well as improve the appearance of a tooth. It is bonded over the entire tooth, which seals the micro-cracks and the variety of sources of bacterial leakage coming from the joints in the patchwork of fillings typically in these teeth.

Crowns are made from a number of materials including gold alloys, porcelain or ceramic, acrylic, metals, or a combination of these materials. The crown is cemented in place and hopefully will last for years to come. In teeth where the decay is substantial, endodontic (root canal) treatment may be necessary, or if the tooth is severely cracked and cannot be saved, Dr. Zaugg may extract the tooth. The key to treating cracked tooth syndrome is regular dental checkups. Dr. Zaugg can then diagnose and treat problems at an early stage.

Meet Dr. Zaugg

Dr. Spencer Zaugg received his bachelor degrees in chemistry and microbiology at Weber State University, then earned his doctorate in dental medicine at Southern Illinois University. Following dental school, he completed a 1 year full-time fellowship in implant dentistry at SIUE-SDM.

Dr. Zaugg attends several continuing education courses a year as well as lectures on implants. He has earned several degrees, certificates and awards. The education, experience and skill set that Dr. Zaugg has allows him to provide good solid dentistry. He has a great passion for dentistry and would love to help you!