My Child Is Tongue Tied: What Does This Mean?

What is Tongue Tie (Ankyloglossia)?

Ankyloglossia, or more commonly referred to as Tongue Tie, occurs when the lingual frenulum (the thin band of tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the mouth) is too short and tight. Reports on the prevalence of tongue tie in newborns is conflicting, though current research indicates that this occurs in approximately 1-4% of newborns. Tongue tie may interfere with breastfeeding, and your newborn my present with significant challenges latching, remaining on the nipple when feeding, and fussiness during feeds. Nursing mothers may also experience significant pain when breastfeeding, even after repositioning.  You may notice that your baby has difficulty sticking their tongue out and the tongue shape may resemble a heart, as observed by a “V” indentation in the tip.  If tongue movement is restricted, tongue elevation, lateralization, and protrusion may be negatively impacted.  Tongue tie is not commonly identified at birth, however if you do have concerns, you should speak with a lactation consultant, speech-language pathologist, or your pediatrician.

What are the effects of my baby having Ankyloglossia?

However, it is presumed that long-term effects are not commonly seen in children with tongue tie. As an infant continues to grow, the frenulum in turn stretches and allows for increased tongue movement.  In rare cases, speech development may be negatively impacted by the severity of the tongue tie, as the tongue is unable to coordinate specific movements to produce targeted sounds. In cases where tongue range-of- motion are profoundly impacted by the tongue tie, the child may undergo a frenotomy or  frenulectomy in which the lingual frenulum is clipped to increase tongue movement.  There is continued debate about whether it is beneficial to “clip or not to clip”, as many healthcare professionals disagree on the effectiveness and supposed outcomes of the surgery. Each case is unique however, therefore an extensive oral-motor and feeding evaluation should be completed in order to assess the severity of the tongue tie, in order to determine the best plan of care for the child.

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