Tongue-tie in Babies
Tongue-tie in babies (ankyloglossia) is a condition that restricts the tongue’s range of motion from birth.
Usually, the lingual frenulum separates before birth, allowing the tongue free range to move. With a tongue-tie, the lingual frenulum remains attached to the bottom of the tongue. The attachment is an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue (lingual frenulum) that tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth.
Symptoms of tongue-tie in babies:
Tongue-tie in babies can be recognised by the following symptoms –
• Difficulty lifting the tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side.
• Trouble sticking out the tongue past the lower front teeth
• A tongue that appears heart-shaped or notched
• Difficulty latching onto breast and suckling
• Speech impairment
When to consult a doctor:
• Your baby has trouble breastfeeding
• A speech language pathologist thinks your child’s speech is affected by the tongue-tie
• Your older child complains of tongue problems that interfere with speaking, eating or reaching the back teeth.
Tongue-tie can affect a baby’s oral development, as well as the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows.
Tongue-tie can lead to:
• Breastfeeding problems: Breastfeeding requires a baby to keep its tongue over the lower gum while sucking. The baby might chew instead of suck on the nipple if unable to move the tongue or keep it in the right position. This can cause nipple pain and interfere with a baby’s ability to get breast milk.
• Poor oral cavity development. The tongue plays a very important role in shaping the palate.
• Speech difficulties: Tongue-tie can interfere with the ability to make certain sounds such as
- r and
• Poor oral hygiene: For an adult or older child, it can make it difficult to brush teeth properly and the natural cleaning effect of the tongue is impaired. This contributes to tooth decay and gingivitis ( inflammation of the gums ). It can also lead to the formation of a gap between the two lower front teeth.
What forms of treatment are required?
The tongue-tie needs to be released. This procedure is called a Frenectomy.
Treatment for Tongue-tie in Babies – Is a Frenectomy painful for babies?
The entire procedure takes less than 15 minutes and doesn’t require anesthesia. The frenulum is very thin with very few nerves therefore very little pain is experienced. Baby can breastfeed immediately afterward; mothers often notice improvement with the first feed.
What to expect after Frenectomy in infants:
It is normal for babies to experience a mild discomfort and minimal swelling after a laser frenectomy. These symptoms usually subside after 24 hours. No sutures are needed and little or no bleeding should be experienced due to the procedure being performed with a specialized laser.
Has your Baby been treated for tongue-tie?
Do’s and don’ts after a Frenectomy:
- Continue Breastfeeding. Breast milk contains healing properties, so it aids with a speedy recovery.
- Be patient, your baby may need to adjust to a new breastfeeding technique so have grace for your baby to adjust.
- Allow for 2 to 3 days – with very little discomfort. After day 1. you can administer Panado syrup if required
- Disinfect or try to desensitize the area using medicaments like topical anesthesia ( teething gels ). The laser stimulates the natural healing properties of the body and the baby’s tongue heal very quickly.