What is Tongue Tie? Why is it a problem and how to treat it?23 Aug 2021
Tongue-tie or ankyloglossia is a medical condition wherein some infants are born with restrictions to the tongue’s range of motion. The tongue must be able to reach every part of the mouth to function effectively. It is the complete range of motion that helps make various sounds when an individual speaks and enables the person to swallow bits of food to keep the mouth clean.
Tongue-ties are categorised in many ways, like the Coryllos I–IV classification system. Some medical professionals will classify tongue-tie as an “anterior” or “posterior.” In contrast, others use the Hazelbaker assessment tool to evaluate the functioning of the tongue and confirm if the baby requires surgical intervention.
With tongue-tie, an uncommonly short, broad, or stretched band of tissues (lingual frenulum) secures the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth so that it might affect breastfeeding.
- Finding it difficult to move the tongue to the upper teeth or shift from side to side
- Unable to stick the tongue past the lower front teeth
- A tongue that is heart-shaped when it protrudes
Is Tongue Tie a Common Medical Condition
At present, tongue-tie is spoken about since research in the last ten years has revealed that the part of the tongue that results in suction is the middle of the tongue and not the tip.
Diagnosing a Tongue-Tie
A pediatrician or primary care doctor would be able to diagnose a tongue-tie. Also, a lactation consultant could notice a tongue-tie when examining for breastfeeding problems. An ENT doctor can also analyse a tongue-tie.
The decision to treat a tongue-tie depends on the severity of the case. The baby might be kept under observation for mild cases, while some doctors might suggest a frenotomy (a process to release the lingual frenulum).
Frenotomy is a simple procedure that can be performed in a doctor’s clinic and the usual side effect is a slight amount of bleeding. Parents or healthcare professionals must physically extend the tissue that has been cut for over 3 to 4 weeks afterwards. It prevents the tissue from regrowing tightly during the healing process. Parents’ experiencing problems during breastfeeding prefer this technique.
If the frenulum is very thick for a swift snip, the pediatrician will choose the frenuloplasty option. The doctor would give the child drugs to ensure they sleep through the process and then use special tools to cut the frenulum and put stitches that would dissolve as the wound begins healing.
The treatment for tongue-tie is based on seriousness, age, and symptoms. The most common being a surgical release technique of simple snipping the front band. The medical fraternity is divided over frenotomy; though the procedure has low risk, some doctors question the requirement to remove a tongue tie to assist with feeding.
Long-Term Impact of Not Treating Tongue-Tie
Tongue-tie can result in weight gain issues and unable to progress in infancy. Tongue-tie can also lead to dental misalignment and speech articulation.
Releasing a tongue-tie is a safe and easy process. Contact a doctor or lactation consultant for further assessment and treatment if any parent feels that their baby has a tongue-tie.