Awareness of tongue-tie and its impact on child health is growing worldwide. So what is tongue tie, how is it detected and what is the treatment?
What is Tongue Tie (Ankyloglossia)?
The medical name for the condition known as tongue-tie is “ankyloglossia”. The tongue is made up of a very complex muscle group that is important for all oral functions. When the small fold of tissue that runs from the floor of your mouth to the bottom of your tongue is too thick or too short, this abnormality can cause many problems and affect many daily activities.
Not all tongue ties cause functional problems, and procedures to correct the condition are only necessary if there are problems with mouth function. If you suspect a tongue-tie, it is important to see a specialist physician.
In Infants: Failed Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding
In order to breastfeed successfully, the baby must grasp both the breast tissue and the nipple. Babies with tongue-tie are unable to open their mouths wide enough to properly fit the breast, which often causes breastfeeding problems.
Some of the symptoms you may notice while breastfeeding are:
.Excessive gas or burping
.Fall asleep on the breast
.Long feeding times or continuous feeding
.Lip calluses or blisters
.Chewing the nipple
.Upper lip flexion
.Sensitive gag reflex
.Difficulty holding a pacifier
Breastfeeding Moms: Difficult, Painful Breastfeeding
Tongue ties don’t just affect babies. A baby’s attached mouth tissue can also cause physical problems for a nursing mother. These problems can include:
.Painful, damaged or bleeding nipples
.Loss of milk supply
Babies: Trouble Eating Solid Food
If you have been told that your child does not have a tongue-tie but many symptoms are present, there is a good chance your child has a posterior (or latent) tongue-tie and should be evaluated. These symptoms include;
.Slow food (usually the last to finish)
.Very selective about food
. Choking when switching to solid foods
.Spitting out food
Distraction at mealtimes
Children: Speech Difficulties
If tongue-tie is not treated, mouth problems can follow a baby into childhood. Signs and symptoms of tongue-tie in childhood include:
.Trouble pronouncing sounds
.V-shaped notch at tongue tip
.The tongue does not protrude from the upper gums
.Inability to touch the roof of the mouth
.Difficulty moving the tongue from side to side
As a simple (but imprecise) test, caregivers or parents may ask themselves if the child can lick an ice cream cone or lollipop without difficulty. If the answer is no, it may be time to consult a specialist for diagnosis.
Adolescents and Adults: Respiratory Problems
Tongue ties have an impact on the development of the mouth and face, which, if left untreated, can affect the development and functions of the airway. These symptoms are usually found in adolescents or adults with tongue-tie.
.Disproportionate growth of lower jaw
.Deficiencies in midface development
.Changes in palate development
.Restricted movement of tongue
Tongue tie loosening therapy creates a wider range of motion for the tongue, allowing it to rest on the palate. This can help the patient sleep more soundly because the tongue will no longer block the airway during the night.
Posture, Neck and Back Pain Issues
Tongue ties can have a major impact on the health and function of the jaw joint over time. The head follows the tongue and if the patient has a tongue tie, it is the head. It means it is tilted downward and forward. This posture affects the sternocleidomastoid muscle, trapezius muscle and surrounding muscles, and can cause the following symptoms:
.Neck and back pain
.Headache and migraine
In cases where these symptoms are caused by tongue-tie, the release procedure allows realignment of the head on the spine. Through exercise, it is possible to retrain the spine and neck to sit in the corrected position and eliminate pain.
Emotional Problems Related to Tongue and Lip Ties
One of the most overlooked issues about tongue ties is the emotional factor. Studies have found that more than 50% of mothers of tongue-tied babies suffer from postpartum depression than those who do not. Problems caused by tongue ties can often mistakenly cause guilt and depression in nursing mothers. If you’re a new mom experiencing these issues, it’s important to know that this is a common problem with a simple solution and it’s not your fault.
The emotional impact on children with tongue-tie can extend into adolescence if left untreated. Speech and eating problems caused by tongue-tie can lead to a lack of self-confidence as the child tries to make up for it. For teens and adults dealing with persistent pain or sleep problems, these problems take an emotional toll and can’t be helped.