When you hear the expression “tongue-tied”, what comes to your mind? Most people will quickly assume it to be someone who has trouble speaking publicly and stutters anxiously when conversing with others. In reality, tongue-tied connotes something more serious. It is actually a medical condition that affects a lot of people, especially for breastfed infants.
Medically known as “ankyloglossia”, tongue tied is when the band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the mouth’s surface, also called the frenulum, is too small and tight. When this happens, the tongue has limited mobility. Tongue-tie can either be a congenital defect that is present at birth or a hereditary condition that was contracted from a family member. It appears relatively common; between 0.2% and 2% of infants are born with an abnormal frenulum.
How do I know if my baby has a Tongue Tie?
To determine if your baby is tongue-tied, have them stick their tongue out while looking at you. This can be hard to do since your baby won’t immediately respond to your request. A good technique to do is to stick out your tongue and let him/her copy you. If they are unable to fully extend the tongue, or if it has a heart form on the edge, get them checked up by their pediatrician immediately. You can also attempt putting your finger inside the mouth with the pad facing up until they begin sucking it. See if the tongue protrudes over the gum line to cup underneath the finger. If not, you should consult a pediatrician.
Tongue Tie and Speech
In some situations, the frenulum retracts on its own during the baby’s first year, and causes no issues in how he/she speaks and feeds. Several different factors contribute to the degree of the condition. If the points of connection are on the very edge of the tongue and the top rim of the bottom gum, speech development and feeding have a higher chance of getting affected than if the frenulum is connected from a further distance at the rear end.
Serious cases of tongue-tie can lead to speech development issues. Some sounds are complicated if not even impossible to produce if the tongue cannot move to its fullest potential, particularly TH, S, D, and T. To add up to producing specific sounds, the condition can also make it difficult for the baby to perform other activities like licking a Popsicle, learning a wind instrument, or French kissing. Although these inabilities may seem insignificant to new parents, it can someday be a huge deal for the child.
What are the effects of Ankyloglossia?
The effects of tongue tie can vary from one person to the next. Dental growth may also be impacted with serious cases sometimes causing a distance between the two bottom front teeth. But a more important effect that merits immediate concern is the infant’s ability to breastfeed effectively. To be able to extract milk from the mother’s breast, the infant needs to move his/her mouth and force the tissue against the top palate of the mouth. This constricts the lactiferous sinuses and enables the milk to enter the mouth. If the baby is restricted to move his/her tongue, then the option to breastfeed or even bottlefeed them is crossed out.
A simple medical procedure known as “frenetomy” can be opted to immediately correct the condition. Another painless procedure that can be done in the pediatrician’s office is by simply clipping the frenulum to extricate it and enable the tongue a full range of motion. The procedure only takes a few minutes and does not require any anesthesia or stitches.
The medical term for tongue tied, Ankyloglossia, is a term many people don’t know about or are not fully aware of. The term, ankyloglossia, comes from two greek words, agkilos, and glossa. Agkilos stands for loop or crooked and glossa, stands for the word tongue.
Up until today, there is no accepted standard on the criteria that is used to diagnose Ankyloglossia, not universally nor practical. The frenulum, a particular tissue centered in the mouth,is a guide to how the structure of the mouth develops even before babies are born. When babies begin to grow and develop teeth, the frenulum continues to act as a guide, guiding the way the teeth grows and with each year of age, it thins out and recedes. Tongue mobility problems can come from the frenulum failing to recede or tightening up and this is where many people begin to see problems with speech, either in children or adults.
The tongue is used for swallowing and for speaking and is the main muscle in the mouth that assists people in doing so. People with tongue tie or ankyloglossia can have eating problems as well as speech problems later in life and need to seek the advice of a physician. Newborn babies often are born with a frenulum that is too tight and parents may notice sucking problems, especially if breastfeeding and the child is unable to latch on properly to the breast. Parents must seek the advice and treatment of a physician. The medical term for tongue tie, ankyloglossia, will most likely be mentioned by a pediatrician to new parents, especially if there seems to be a problem with feedings. Speech problems in children usually occur around the age of 3, so it is important to get the child checked as to not have any further problems awaiting.
Parenting is a challenge almost from the moment of conception as parents truly only want what is the absolute best for their child. Medical issues tend to crop up from time to time and some are small and others are large and looming. One of the more common medical issues that can impact a baby is what is being called tongue tie or ankyloglossia. This is where the flap of skin residing under the tongue is too taunt, tight or short to allow for full protrusion of the tongue. This really means that the child cannot stick their tongue out as far as others can who are not considered to be tongue tie.
Though the initial diagnosis of having a child with a tongue tie may seem hard to understand and actually sound rather frightening; it is a common occurrence and one that really is not as bothersome to the child as one may think. In fact, the majority of children with a tongue tie lead and live normal lives without ever having to have the issue medically addressed. Though some parents may be presented with worse case scenarios that allude to the fact the extreme cases of being tongue tie can impair speech and even the ability to chew and swallow properly; for the most part it is a minimally relevant issue in terms of the child’s overall well being.
Tongue Tie Surgery?
The matter is one that is a personal choice and many medical professionals agree that correcting a tongue tie is more about aesthetics above anything else. This is why the majority of those children who have been diagnosed with a tongue tie never have a tongue tie surgery to correct the issue and never suffer any ill consequences as they can speak, eat, chew and swallow properly. The fact that perhaps the child cannot stick their tongue out as far as another child really is not just cause to perform a medical procedure to correct the issue. This is why in roughly 90% of all tongue tie cases the issue is left go and no treatment is needed, necessary or even warranted.
Babies with tongue-ties may not be able to open their little mouths wide enough to grip onto the mother’s breast to drink their milk. Because they cannot get to the milk then they then can slide off the breast and cannot suck the nipple well which makes the mother become sore and the baby tends not to gain much weight. Breastfeeding a tongue tied baby is quite hard if the baby is becoming upset when it feeds.
The baby needs to be able to suck onto the breast and the nipple and if you have a baby that is finding this hard to do then you should check to see if he or she has a tongue tie. Obviously if your baby can breastfeed well even with a tongue tie then there is no problem. It is only when the baby can’t feed properly and doesn’t gain much weight that it becomes a problem.
Here are 3 tips that may help with breastfeeding a tongue tied baby:
- Not all tongue-tied babies require treatment and this could resolve spontaneously in due time. In some cases all the baby needs is support from the mother to latch on to the nipple.
- However if it is hard for the baby to suck properly then the other alternative is that the mother pumps her milk and uses a bottle to feed.
- If all else fails and you can’t help your baby to suckle properly then you may have to talk to your doctor about getting the simple procedure down to cut the tongue tie.
It can be very frustrating for the baby and mother if he or she cannot suckle properly but you will be able to notice this quite quickly if the baby is fussing or falling off the breast when you try to breastfeed him or her. But this is a common problem and about 1 in 7 babies have a tongue tie. It can be rectified quite easily if needed.
For any new parent, the thought of anything being wrong with their sweet little bundle of joy is scary. Fortunately, in most cases, a tongue tied baby is nothing to be overly concerned about. Tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a condition in which the piece of tissue which connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth (the frenulum) is unusually shorter in length than what would typically be seen. For older kids and adults, this may result in restricted speech, which may require speech therapy. The phrase “to be tongue tied,” refers to a person who is unable to speak in public, or may stammer when doing so. Fortunately, for most people, this condition does not cause any great issues with speech or ability to eat and swallow, however, depending upon severity, it may require medical intervention in the form of a surgical procedure.
Usually, in most cases of tongue tie, the frenulum will recede on it’s own within the first year on life and presents no additional problems with speech development.There is no reason to be too concerned for a tongue tie baby if he or she is still able to drink. Tongue tie may potentially cause latch problems for breastfed babies. Because an improper latch could have a negative impact on a baby’s nutrition and result in possible weight loss, a visit from a lactation consultant would be advisable. Other commom issues that nursing mothers may experiene from breastfeeding a tongue tied baby with an improper latch include mastitis, nipple trauma and plugged ducts. A lactation consultant is well trained in how to effecively breastfeed a tongue tied baby and will help mothers achieve an appropriate latch technique to work around the issue.
Many times, the severity of the tongue tie will depend on the placement of the shortened frenulum. Typically, the further up the tongue that the frenulum deficiency is located, the more likely a child is to experience feeding problems, as well as speech development problems down the line. If the tongue tie is found to have a negative impact on the baby’s ability to feed, then a simple procedure called a frenetomy can be preformed. This simple, outpatient procedure is preformed in office by a trained physician and is relatively quick and painless (the pain being no worse than getting one’s ears pierced). In this procedure, the physician simply clips the frenulum to allow the tongue more room to move and the amount of blood is minimal. After this procedure is completed, the baby will attempt to feed in order to ascertain whether the feeding difficulties have been resolved. Many physicians, however, prefer to not preemptively cut the frenulum, instead waiting to see whether the tongue tie will have a negative impact on the child’s quality of life. While this procedure was routinely preformed in the 19th century, many physicians are reluctant to do it now, except in cases where the baby’s ability to feed is severely restricted and causes a negative impact on weight gain.
Fortunately, most babies are able to thrive just fine with ankyloglossia. As many tongue tied babies grow and develop during their first year of life, the frenulum lengthens and matures and no further complications arise. However, there is a simple surgical procedure which can also correct this relatively harmless issue.