Tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, is a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion. When a child is born with tongue-tie they have an unusually short thick or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) tethering the bottom of the tongue to the floor of their mouth.
- The child may have difficulty sticking out his or her tongue
- The child may have difficulty lifting their tongue to their upper teeth or moving it from side to side
- The tongue may look heart shaped when stuck out
- The child may have difficulty producing t, d, z, s, th, l, and r
- The child pay have difficulty swallowing
- The child may have difficulty breast feeding
- The child may have difficulty eating solid or semi-soft foods
Here are some signs that your baby’s tongue-tie may be causing feeding problems:
- She repeatedly breaks suction while feeding.
- She makes clicking noises while feeding.
- She’s gaining weight too slowly.
- You experience nipple pain when she nurses. (She may be chewing rather than sucking in her effort to access the milk.)
- Your milk supply is dwindling.
What your doctor may ask you about your baby:
- Are you having trouble breast-feeding?
- Is your child having trouble with their speech?
- Is a gap developing between your child’s two bottom front teeth?
- Are you concerned about activities your child is not able to do because of limited tongue movement?
Treatment options for tongue-tie:
- The lingual frenulum may loosen over time and it may resolve on its own.
- If tongue tie persists, a simple surgical procedure called a frenotomy may be warranted.
- In this procedure the doctor numbs the membrane with a topical anesthetic, then snips the frenulum. It takes only a few minutes and doctors say it is less traumatic than ear piercing. Discomfort to your child is minimal during this procedure.
As always, consult with your pediatrician if you have concerns that your child may have a tongue-tie and consult with them for your best treatment options. A speech-language pathologist can help with feeding issues.