There is so much to learn and notice about newborn babies. Concerns always arise when something new or mysterious happens. You wonder, “Is this a problem? Should I be worried?” Tongue-tie is one such condition, and we are here to tell you that it is nothing to worry about and it can be easily remedied.
What is Tongue-Tie?
If you look in the mirror or feel underneath you own tongue, you will notice a small strip of skin that connects the bottom of your tongue to the floor of your mouth. Tongue-tie, otherwise known as ankyloglossia, is not the result of a hard-to-say sentence gone wrong – it is when this strip of skin in a baby’s mouth is shorter than usual.
This is relatively common. In fact, around 10% of newborns have it. However, it is more common in boys than in girls.
How Can You Tell?
Working out if your baby has tongue-tie is not always that easy. For a start, some babies are not bothered by it at all, so they may not show signs of difficulty or discomfort early on. Very often, it will be diagnosed when your baby has a check-up, so if you are concerned, ask your doctor to have a quick look next time you go in.
Most commonly, however, the problem presents itself if a baby is having trouble breast-feeding. The tongue is essential to a baby’s ability to “latch-on,” as, to do this successfully, the baby’s mouth needs to stretch over the breast tissue as well as the nipple. The baby’s tongue also needs to cover the lower gum in order to protect the nipple from damage. Restricted movement in the tongue can make this all very difficult and uncomfortable for you and your baby.
What Other Effects Can It Have?
As stated, the most common effect is difficulty breast-feeding. This can manifest itself in a number of ways:
- Baby may not be able to stay attached for the length of a full feed.
- Baby may be unsettled and hungry all the time.
- Baby may not be gaining weight at the expected rate.
- Baby might make an odd “clicking” sound as they feed. However, this may be due to an adjustment in your positioning being needed.
- The mother having sore or cracked nipples.
- The mother having a low or unreliable milk supply.
- The mother suffering regular inflammation of the breast.
Although breast-feeding is the main issue with tongue-tie, it can lead to other problems down the line. As your baby moves on to solid food, they may struggle to eat certain things. It can also, in severe cases, effect speech development in toddlers and young children.
How To Treat It
Here’s the good news! If your baby has tongue-tie but is managing to feed successfully, then treatment may not be necessary. Remember that your baby is still growing and developing, so it is extremely likely that this problem will solve itself as their bodies grow.
However, if it is a real problem, then there is a very simple procedure available to solve it. The “tongue-tie release” procedure is very quick, completely painless, and usually resolves feeding problems immediately. All it requires is one simple snip to the connective skin under the tongue, which heals in a matter of days.
If you suspect that your baby has tongue-tie and wish to book a consultation, give us a call at:
(480) 684-1080 or you can drop us an e-mail at [email protected]
Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital and clinical settings.