Tongue tied baby: all you need to know about the symptoms and effects

On the contrary to what many of us think, tongue-tied isn’t somebody who is shy to speak or embarrassed, in reality, it is a medical condition which affects a lot of people.

‘Ankyloglossia is the medical term for tongue-tie and it takes place when the frenulum (a strip of tissue which attaches the base of the mouth to the bottom of the tongue) is too tight and short, causing restrictions in the tongue’s movement.    

Tongue-tie can be hereditary or congenital (exist during birth).    

Signs - How to identify if your baby has Ankyloglossia 

You can tell if your baby is tongue-tied by looking at the baby and sticking your tongue out. This is an action which even tiny babies will imitate.

However, if you notice: 

  • That the baby is not capable of extending the tongue completely or past the lower front teeth 
  • An appearance on the tongue’s tip which is heart shaped
  • Difficulty in raising the tongue toward the above teeth
  • Difficulty in side to side movement of the tongue

Then you should visit a doctor.

How long does it last and effects?

Without causing any problems to feeding or speech, during the first year the frenulum draws back on its own. Although, it’s subject to the degree of tongue-tie: suppose the connection is found at the tip - the top edge of the lower gum and tip of the tongue, then speech and feeding are likely to be affected.

Effects of tongue-tie

Tongue-tie can lead to:

  • Breast-feeding problems – If the child in unable to move the tongue around or grip on something then instead of sucking on the nipple, the child will chew on it. This not only will interfere with the baby getting milk but also cause significant pain to the mother. Ultimately, poor nutrition can be the result of poor breast feeding.
  • Speech difficulties – Ability to create particular sounds will be hindered like "t," "d," "z," "s," "th" and "l."
  • Lacking oral hygiene – For older children and adults, it will be difficult to clear food particles from teeth. If food particles are left in the teeth, they can lead to decay and gingivitis. 
  • Other activities - Additionally, in the long run, activities like licking ice cream cones, playing a wind instrument or even sticking the tongue will be impossible. As a new mother, these skills may be seen as unimportant but someday it will be important to your kid.    

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Last updated on 04 July, 2018.

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