Tongue-tie (also known as ankyloglossia) is a condition present at birth that restricts the baby’s tongue range of motion.
What is Tongue Tie? Tongue tie is when a short, thick or tight band of tissue at the bottom of the tongue’s tip is secured to the floor of the mouth. Typically, this band of tissue usually separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range of motion. With tongue-tie, it remains attached to the bottom of the tongue.
Different descriptions of tongue-ties are anterior (at the front of the tongue) or posterior (towards the back of the mouth). You might also hear tongue-ties described using a percentage. This percentage describes how far along the underside of the tongue the band comes. 100% means the tie comes all the way to the front of the tongue. A tight posterior tongue-tie could cause worse feeding problems than a loose anterior tongue-tie.
Sometimes, tissue on the floor of a baby’s mouth (the mucosa) hides the tongue-tie. This kind of tongue-tie is called a sub-mucosal tongue-tie.
Although tongue-tie can affect anyone, it’s more common in boys than girls. Tongue-tie sometimes runs in families. Sometimes tongue-tie may not cause problems. Some cases may require a simple surgical procedure for correction.
Symptoms Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie include:
Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out.
When to seek help
If your baby has signs of tongue-tie that cause problems, such as having trouble breast-feeding/feeding.
Breast-feeding problems- Breast-feeding requires a baby to keep his or her tongue over the lower gum while sucking. If unable to move the tongue or keep it in the right position, the baby might chew instead of suck on the nipple. This can cause significant nipple pain and interfere with a baby’s ability to access breast milk. Ultimately, poor breast-feeding can lead to inadequate nutrition and a failure to thrive.
Bottle Feeding problems-you might notice your baby is very slow to take a bottle and needs to be fed often in order to get enough milk. They may also dribble during feeds and can only manage a teat that has a very slow flow. They also may choke on feeds even when you slow the feed down.
Oral Development-Tongue-tie can affect a baby’s oral development, as well as the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows.
Speech-A speech and language professional thinks your child’s speech may be affected by tongue-tie. Your older child complains of tongue problems that interfere with eating, speaking or reaching the back teeth
Speech difficulties. Tongue-tie can interfere with the ability to make certain sounds — such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r” and “l.” The child/adult may be bothered by their own symptoms of tongue-tie.
Poor oral hygiene. For an older child or adult, tongue-tie can make it difficult to sweep food debris from the teeth. This can contribute to tooth decay and inflammation of the gums. Tongue-tie can also lead to the formation of a gap or space between the two bottom front teeth.