What is tongue tie in my child?

Tongue tie or ankyloglossia is a condition which restricts the movement of the tongue. This condition is present at birth. So the condition can affect breast feeding in infants. Sometimes a person with tongue tie can have difficulty in sticking the tongue out. In older children tongue tie can affect the way the child eats, speaks and swallows.

What causes tongue tie in my child?

A thin band of skin connects the lower part of your tongue with the floor of your mouth. This is called the ”lingual Frenum”. This band of skin can become thickened and shorter causing a tongue tie.

How will I know if my child has a tongue tie?

Says Dr Saravanakumar, Pedodontist and tongue tie specialist——-“When a child is born all the essential parameters are evaluated. The first week may pass of as normal when the infant breast feeds. Subsequently the mother can notice that the baby is finding difficulty in breast feeding. You have to then take your baby to a dentist for an evaluation. Your pedodontist will examine the baby. If a high freeman attachment is seen then he can decide on  releasing the frenum. However, your dentist can refer your baby to the lactation specialist once for an evaluation.”

What is the treatment for tongue tie?

Early detection and surgery is the remedy for a tongue tie condition. Dr Saravanakumar explains——“The procedure for a tongue tie is very simple. The high frenum attachment is clipped off ( Frenectomy) and does not take more than a minute to do it. However, preparing the parents is a long procedure.  Explaning the condition and its adverse affects, if left untreated takes time. However, once the procedure is done the child will bounce back to normal very well.”

What will happen if the condition goes undetected early and persists into late childhood?

If the condition persists into childhood, you can notice the following signs and symptoms

  • Difficulty in lifting the tongue to the upper teeth 
  • 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
  • Difficulty in speech, especially in pronouncing certain syllables
  • Improper development of your child’s oral structures
  • Poor oral hygiene because the tongue cannot move freely to clear the debris

Which speciality of the medical profession deals with tongue tie?

Dr Saravanakunar reiterates——“Your ‘knowledgable provider’ (dentist) can be the first person to diagnose a tongue tie. However, as a parent you can be the first person to notice an deviation from normal in your breast feeding baby. Once the provisional diagnosis is made you pedodontist can send your baby to the lactation specialist for an evaluation. If the need for a surgery is confirmed, its best to perform at the earliest, say as early as 2 weeks of the infant.”