What is a Tongue Tie?
Tongue Tie (Ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth, restricts the tongue’s range of motion. With tongue tie, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. A person who has tongue-tie might have difficulty sticking out his or her tongue. Tongue-tie can also affect the way a child eats, speaks and swallows, as well as interfere with breast-feeding.
Who treats and identifies Tongue Ties?
There are a number of different health professionals involved in the care of Tongue Ties. These include: pediatricians, dentists, ENTs, speech and language therapists, and lactation nursing consultants. Some Tongue Ties may require surgery which is a simple procedure where the tissue that attaches the tongue to the floor of the mouth is clipped allowing the tongue to move more freely in the mouth. It can done in the pediatrician’s office without anesthesia and there is usually little to no bleeding. Stitches are usually not required. The procedure doesn’t seem to hurt babies. This is because there are very few nerve endings in the area around the floor of the mouth. Some babies sleep through the procedure, while others cry for a few seconds
Who is affected by Tongue Ties?
Tongue Ties affect around 4-11% of newborn babies. It’s more common in boys than in girls and sometimes runs in families. If left untreated it can cause problems well into adulthood.
Symptoms of Tongue Ties
- Infants acting irritable or fussy, even after feeding
- Difficulty creating or keeping suction on the nipple or bottle
- Poor weight gain or weight loss
- Breastfeeding mothers may have problems with breast pain, cracked nipples, and/or low milk supply due to tongue tie in their infant
- Delayed speech development and/or deterioration in speech
- Problems with sticking their tongue out
- Problems with swallowing
What is the first step if you have a newborn and are experiencing difficulty in breastfeeding?
If you and/or your baby are experiencing difficulty in breastfeeding, first go see and talk with your pediatrician. He/She will evaluate all the possible causes of poor breastfeeding, including Tongue Tie. He/She may seek help from a Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Your pediatrician may decide that your infant would benefit from a Frenectomy and may do it himself/herself. At Associates in Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, we do have pediatricians who can perform a frenectomy. If the frenulum is significantly thick, a referral may be made to another provider.