Tongue Ties in Children and When to Get Them Fixed

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Many of us are used to tongue ties and all of us grew up with those fun tongue twisters we all recited from memory. However, a tongue-tie can be a true issue for children, all games and rhymes aside. A permanent tongue tie can result in poor oral hygiene along with other dental issues because of the limited range and use of the tongue. If you’re unsure whether your child has tongue-tie or if they may need help getting it corrected, keep reading to learn more.

What is Tongue-Tie?

There’s a thin piece of flesh under your tongue that keeps it slightly anchored to the bottom of your mouth. This is called the lingual frenulum. Babies start out with this piece of flesh being a lot more attached, and as they develop, it slowly disconnects to allow a fuller range of motion. This often occurs before they’re born, but some have it happen soon after they’re born. However, sometimes this process doesn’t fully occur, resulting in limited tongue use. Sometimes, the lingual frenulum ends up being too short and tight, other times, it’s attached to far up. Both circumstances can either be overly noticeable or hard to detect. Doctors may not always check for it which means that parents will want to take notice if their child is having any issues.

What Issues Arise with a Tongue-Tie?

If there’s a bigger issue with a tongue-tie early on, it will be more noticeable in breastfeeding. If you notice your baby is chewing more than sucking, having trouble latching, feeding for long periods with a small break in between, isn’t gaining weight as they should, or making clicking noises while feeding, they could be struggling with a tongue-tie. Other signs to look out for are a “V” or heart-shaped tip of the tongue, inability to move the tongue side to side very well, inability to reach the roof of the mouth with the tongue, and inability to reach past the gums with the tongue. As far as breastfeeding goes, there could be other underlying causes for the same issues. Because of this, it’s encouraged you to seek a doctor to verify what the actual cause is and take the next step based on their recommendations.

When Should I Worry?

In general, there’s little need to worry when it comes to a tongue-tie. Even if your child is having issues, there are multiple basic surgeries to free up the lingual frenulum. Many children with a basic tongue-tie never need to have a procedure performed to fix it. However, if your child is having trouble breastfeeding because of a tongue-tie, this is when it’s best to look into getting the problem reversed. If you don’t notice any major issues with your child breastfeeding, but run into issues as they start to eat solid food and speak, this is when you’ll also want to look at getting the problem reversed. Before making any decision or assumption, as always, see your doctor if you suspect your child is having issues with a tongue-tie.