Chances are if you're a parent, you've heard the phrase "tongue-tie" before. Most often we hear it in relation to breastfeeding, as it can effect a baby's ability to successfully latch. Tongue tie, medically known as ankyloglossia, happens to up to 10 percent of babies. And while it is easily cured, it is not always easily diagnosed. Because it isn't something that medical professionals are always looking out for, it can be overlooked for years. But once it is diagnosed, if the parents choose to fix it (which they should) it is a very simple procedure.
For those who don't know exactly what tongue tie is, it is when the tip of the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth by a tight or thick tissue. This limits the tongue's range of motion, which means children who have tongue tie cannot do something like stick out their tongue, or move it side to side. The limited range of motion is what makes breastfeeding difficult for babies with tongue tie. They cannot thrust their tongues forward to properly latch onto the nipple. For many babies, tongue tie is often diagnosed because of their inability to properly latch during breastfeeding; many lactation consultants will examine newborns for tongue tie.
While sometimes a child's tongue tie doesn't make any impact to a child's life; but it can also affect their speech, and the way they eat and swallow. If you notice your child has difficulties in any of areas, even though it may be something more complicated, it may be worth looking into tongue tie, especially for problems with eating and swallowing.
Along the lines of eating, tongue tie can also lead to oral hygiene problems. For children who already eating solid food, their tongue tie can make it more difficult to sweep food debris from around the teeth, which can lead to things like tooth decay.
If your child is diagnosed with a tongue tie, fear not. The procedure to fix it, called a frenotomy, named such because the band of tissue under the tongue is called the lingual frenulum. It is often performed by a dentist, especially for older children. Often quick and bloodless, it doesn't really have any side effects. But having it done will do your child a world of good.