If your child has tongue tie then a short band of tissue is attached from the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth.
It is a condition present from birth.
It is also known as tongue tie ankyloglossia.
Your child may not be able to speak clearly or eat properly because of this condition.
Hence, a surgical procedure can create it so that your child can feed properly.
If you do not get the surgery then you can live with the condition but it can affect the quality of your life.
This article discusses how you can identify it and how to treat it so that your child has no problem swallowing or speaking.
Tongue Tie Symptoms
The lingual frenulum in a child with this condition is short and tight.
It tends to separate from the tongue resulting in the congenital condition.
Hence, your child can face problems while moving their tongue.
They will not be able to lift it properly or shift it from one side to another.
Moreover, they will not be able to stick their tongue out either.
Rather they will only be able to stick it out till the lower front teeth.
If your child manages to stick out their tongue then it is not in the proper shape.
In fact, it will look heart-shaped or notched as the bottom of the tongue attaches to the floor.
When your child is breastfeeding, latching can become difficult.
Plus, they keep feeding for a very long time because they cannot feed on it properly.
As a result, they will constantly feel hungry and will not gain weight.
You can notice that when they are feeding, they produce a click sound.
Mothers will experience pain while nursing their children with this condition.
There will not be enough milk supply and their nipples may crack or become sore.
This condition is different from lip tie whereby the movement of the upper lip is restricted and not the tongue restricted.
Older children can have trouble speaking properly.
Swallowing food is also not an easy task.
Moreover, some day-to-day tasks will be hindered.
They cannot lick ice cream or play a wind instrument.
Their tongue cannot stick out or reach towards the back of their teeth.
They cannot lift it to the roof of the mouth either.
When all these signs and symptoms start to interfere with their quality of life, it is time to reach out to your doctor.
They will treat the condition with a small surgery.
Boys are usually 3 times more likely to get the condition than girls.
This may stem from genetics or other causes.
Find about the below.
While the embryo develops, the floor of the mouth and tongue fuse together.
The tongue separates as the fetus grows while the lingual frenulum stays in place.
The lingual frenulum attaches to the tongue but right before birth, it separates.
This allows the tongue to work normally and move freely.
It usually thins down and shrinks but in this condition, it stays thick limiting the movement of the tongue.
There isn’t a specific cause behind it except that it could be genetic.
It runs in families and boys are more likely to suffer from it than girls.
It can lead to complications when the child gets older.
As the tongue cannot move freely, it does not remove the food debris stuck between teeth.
It compromises their oral health and hygiene.
Moreover, it can result in a gap between the lower front teeth.
As your child grows older, they will have speech impediments.
This is because this condition impedes sounds such as “z”, “s”, “t”, “r”, “th”, “d”.
Beyond that, your child will not be able to feed properly.
During breastfeeding, your baby puts their tongue on the lower gum.
Due to this condition, they cannot place their tongue in the right place.
Hence, rather than putting the tongue in the right position to suck, they start chewing.
As a result, not only will the mother feel the pain but the child will receive inadequate nutrition.
If they do not feed properly then they will not gain weight rather start losing it.
Therefore, these complications can interfere with your child’s quality of life.
Hence, it is better to get a surgical procedure to resolve the condition after a diagnosis with your doctor.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Your child will only go through a physical exam to detect the condition.
Their doctor uses a screening tool for examining the tongue.
They will check its appearance whether it is in V-shape and how it moves.
They will give their teeth a look and check if there is a gap between their lower front teeth.
Furthermore, they will ask you if your child is feeding properly or not.
Additionally, their doctor uses a tongue depressor to look beneath their tongue and see the problem causing tissue and noticing the movement of the tongue.
A pediatrician or a lactation consultant can also diagnose the problem.
After they diagnose the problem, they may or may not recommend immediate treatment.
Doctors have varying opinions regarding the surgical procedure.
Some recommend getting it immediately as it is found in a newborn before the hospital discharges them.
This will prevent any complications from developing later.
However, others are of the opinion that they should wait and see how it fares.
Sometimes the tissue thins down on its own after a while.
As it loosens, the tongue tie resolves by itself without needing any surgery.
Also, at times even if it continues, it may not create worse problems.
A speech-language pathologist can help with speech therapy ensuring the condition does not hinder the sounds.
Moreover, a lactation consultant can help with the problems related to breastfeeding, making it more comfortable for both the child and the mother.
However, there is no other option but to get surgery when it poses bigger problems.
Surgical treatments are of two types and they can help resolve the problem for you or your child to live a better life.
Adults, older children and infants can all get the surgery so can newborn babies.
Tongue Tie Treatment
A frenotomy surgical procedure does not need anesthesia.
This procedure has minimal complications and your doctor can easily do it in their office.
Your doctor simply uses sterile scissors to cut the lingual frenulum after examining it.
There is hardly any pain or discomfort in this simple procedure called fernotomy.
This is also why you may or may not need anesthesia.
Few nerve endings and blood vessels exist in this part of the mouth.
Therefore, you to your child will not feel pain but slight discomfort.
There will be hardly any bleeding or a maximum of one to two drops of blood.
This procedure rarely has any complications but if so there can be a risk of:
- damaged salivary glands
- the lingual frenulum attaches again to the tongue
Your child can resume breastfeeding immediately after the procedure.
Besides this, there is another procedure that is done when the lingual frenulum is thicker.
Frenotomy is the ideal procedure when the lingual frenulum is thin.
However, when it is thicker, simply cutting it off is not the best choice.
This procedure needs general anesthesia to release the frenulum.
Your doctor uses surgical tools to free the frenulum from the tongue and then also stitches the wound.
You do not need to open the stitches a the sutures absorb when your tongue heals.
The complications are damage to the salivary glands, infection, damage to the tongue and bleeding.
As the procedure uses anesthesia you or your child can get an adverse reaction to it.
Furthermore, as it is a surgery, there is a risk of developing scars on the treatment site.
Additionally, your doctor will recommend exercises that can improve the movement of the tongue.
Following through with them will also decrease the chances of scarring on the treatment site.
You cannot prevent tongue tie in any way.
Your child will have it since birth and that is not within your control.
However, you can diagnose it early on and treat it timely so that they do not have any issues later in life.
Children will usually recover without any significant treatment.
Sometimes the lingual frenulum will loosen on its own.
Therefore, eliminating the need for a surgical procedure.
However, if it is thick enough then it will start interfering with their quality of life.
If you want to wait and see if it loosens on its own then ask your doctor how you can ensure that your child gets proper nutrition with the condition.
As it will be hard for your child to feed on breast milk.
Also, confirm if that is the reason behind their nutritional deficiencies and slower growth.
Furthermore, if your doctor suggests that your child should get surgical treatment then ask about the post-surgery complications.
Though, if you treat the condition in time then it results in successful recovery and a normal tongue.
If you or your child have a tongue tie then it is best to consult your doctor about it soon and follow their recommendations.
They may suggest immediate surgery if the lingual frenulum is thick.
Or you can wait to see if it loosens over time after birth.