Is Your Baby Tongue Tied?

Posted on: 2 April 2019

If your baby is having problems breastfeeding or your child appears to have a speech impediment, then there is a chance that they may be tongue-tied. If this is a possibility, then you want to talk to their dentist about your concerns. If you aren't familiar with what it means to be tongue-tied, then this article is a great place for you to start with regards to gaining more knowledge about this condition.

What it means to be tongue tied

The medical term for tongue tied is "ankyloglossia". This is a condition that's present at an infant's birth, but it isn't always caught. The condition can range from mild to extreme. It can restrict a child's ability to have the full range of motion of their tongue.

When someone is tongue tied, it means that there is a short, tight, or thick piece of tissue that is called the lingual frenulum. Normally this tissue connects the tongue to the bottom of someone's mouth near the back of the tongue. When someone is tongue-tied, this tissue will be close to the front of the tongue and this is what causes the restriction of their tongues range of motion.

When the tongue is restricted due to the band of tissue tying their tongue down more than it should be, many things can be affected. It can affect their ability to breastfeed, eat, pronounce words correctly, and even swallow correctly. Someone who is tongue-tied may not even be able to do things like stick their tongue out, whistle, or blow bubbles with bubble gum.

Obvious signs of being tongue tied

In extreme cases, it will be easier to spot the signs of being tongue-tied, as you can actually see the lingual frenulum near the tip of the tongue on the bottom. Also, a person may not be able to move their tongue from one side of their mouth to the other. They may not be able to open their mouth and touch the roof of their mouth with their tongue, their tongue may not be able to protrude past their bottom set of teeth, or their tongue may have a heart shape to it at the end.

When to see the dentist

If your baby is having a problem breastfeeding and you believe that being tongue tied may be the reason, then a visit to the dentist can give you the answers you need. The dentist will be able to tell you whether your baby is in fact tongue-tied. Also, if your older child has a hard time saying certain sounds, complains of tongue pains, or has problems with eating, chewing, or swallowing, then you should take them to the dentist as well.

What the dentist can do

Once it is determined that the issues your child is having are in fact due to a tied tongue, then the dentist can do a surgical procedure called a frenectomy. A frenectomy involves clipping the lingual frenulum in a way that frees up the tongue so the patient will be able to move their tongue as they are supposed to be able to.