Does my child need tongue release?
What is a tongue-tie?
The lingual frenulum is a small piece of tissue under the tongue. This tissue connects the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. A short or tight frenulum will tie the tongue, limiting tongue movement and freedom in a baby's mouth, leading to tongue-tie. Babies need their tongue's proper and free movement in the mouth so they can make different sounds when they speak. That's why some babies with tongue-tie may have speech problems and have difficulty pronouncing certain letters or sounds.
While most children do not have speech development issues due to their tongue-tie, worried parents can seek advice from a child health nurse or a local speech pathologist.
Tongue-ties can interfere with your baby's ability to move their tongue freely in the mouth because the frenulum may be attached too close to the tongue tip.
Tongue-tie occurs when the piece of tissue underneath the tongue that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth is shorter or tighter than usual.
Tongue-tie may affect approximately three per cent of children and is a congenital oral condition, meaning it's been present in your child from birth. Tongue-tie runs in the family and affects mostly baby boys rather than girls. This oral condition, also called Ankyloglossia, can restrict the movement of your baby's tongue and cause feeding issues for them: bottle-feeding or breastfeeding problems.
Tongue-tie ankyloglossia can interfere with the baby's breastfeeding, nutrition, growth and, development of your child. A child's tongue-tie is not usually a serious problem and may improve on its own; actually, many babies do not seem to have any issues resulting from having their tongue-tied.
Most babies with tongue-tie do not seem to have breastfeeding difficulties.
However, treatment is necessary if a tongue-tie affects your child's speech and health or is causing breastfeeding problems for the baby. If children have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, tongue-tie treatment is needed. A simple surgical procedure can typically solve tongue-tie in children.
Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie for babies
Infants or children with tongue-tie may show some of these signs.
- The baby cannot stick out its tongue.
- The baby cannot latch on to the breast well.
- The baby keeps coming on and off the breast during breastfeeding.
- The baby seems to be hungry all the time.
- The baby cannot gain weight as expected.
- The baby's ability to lift its tongue appears to be compromised.
- The baby has trouble breastfeeding, or breastfeeding takes a lot of time.
- The baby's tongue tip seems to be heart-shaped or has a 'V shape'.
- The baby seems to have a flattened tongue tip rather than a pointed one.
- The baby's tongue seems unable to be moved sideways.
- The baby's lower front teeth have a gap between them.
- The baby makes a clicking sound when sucking on the breast.
Older children who haven't had their tongue-tied release may face oral health issues because teeth cleaning may not be easy. They may experience tooth decay or gum issues over time.
Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie for mothers whose babies have tongue-tie
Tongue-tie problems for mothers
A mother whose child has a tongue-tie may also face some issues, such as:
- Nipple pain
- Painful breastfeeding
- Nipples may be flattened-looking after breastfeeding
- Nipples may look squashed after breastfeeding
- Decreased milk supply
- Poor milk transfer
Treatment for tongue-tie
Surgical and non-surgical treatment for tongue-tie
Since many children do not face any significant problems with their tongue-tie, Brisbane paediatric dentists usually recommend parents wait to see if tongue-tie improves on its own with time. However, some doctors and lactation consultants suggest fixing tongue-tie as soon as possible to prevent possible complications as the child is growing.
Non-surgical procedure for a tongue-tie
Speech therapy: A speech pathologist can assist a child with speech development problems. A speech-language pathologist may be able to help your child with pronouncing some sounds.
Breastfeeding tips: Mothers can seek advice from a lactation consultant to receive breastfeeding tips. A lactation consultant can give you helpful advice on your breastfeeding positioning and how to keep your milk supply.
Who is a lactation consultant? They are health professionals trained to help mothers breastfeed their babies efficiently.
(an experienced health professional who assists mothers with breastfeeding)
Surgical procedure for a tongue-tie
What is a lingual frenotomy?
In case of a severe tongue-tie, tongue release is essential to improve the infants' health and ability to breastfeed. A lingual frenotomy is a surgical procedure performed to release tongue-tie.
What does the procedure involve?
The paediatric dentist will begin by administering a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The frenulum will then be cut using sterile scissors. In some cases, the doctor will decide to administer general anesthesia.
A small amount of bleeding and discomfort from being held firmly is normal and does not cause concern.
- Newborn infants should be given Vitamin K at birth. You will be asked to give Vitamin K to your child before the procedure.
- Bleeding, infection, pain, discomfort, ulcer, or damage to the tongue may occur following the procedure.
- You can feed your baby right after the procedure is over.
If you need further information about tongue-tie or the procedure of tongue-tie treatment, please get in touch with us