Tongue tie is a condition that you’re born with.
Depending on its severity, it can interfere very early with breastfeeding.
Or, you may notice the symptoms later in your child’s life as they struggle to speak or lick an ice cream cone.
The good news is that tongue tie is easily treated and any lasting effect on your child’s speaking ability can generally be resolved with speech therapy for children.
Now, let’s find out more.
What Is Tongue Tie?
Tongue tie, also called ankyloglossia, is a condition that presents at birth and restricts your tongue’s range of motion.
This happens because an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue ties the bottom of your tongue’s tip to the floor of your mouth.
That’s why it’s called tongue tie.
Tongue tie can interfere with breastfeeding and so if your baby has it, you may know immediately if they are having challenges feeding.
Other times, it is less severe and only interferes with your ability to stick out your tongue past your bottom teeth.
If left untreated, tongue tie can affect the way your child eats, speaks, and swallows.
How To Tell If Your Baby Has Tongue Tie
There are some noticeable, physical symptoms if your baby has tongue tie.
- Trouble sticking out their tongue past their lower front teeth
- Difficulty lifting their tongue to the upper teeth or moving the tongue from side to side
- A tongue that appears notched or heart shaped when stuck out
- Difficulty feeding
It’s important to note that while we mention teeth, you can still see these symptoms in your baby if they don’t have their teeth yet.
What Causes Tongue Tie?
The direct cause of tongue tie is currently unknown.
Usually the lingual frenulum (tissue underneath the tongue) separates prior to birth, which allows your tongue a free range of motion.
With tongue tie, the lingual frenulum does not separate and remains attached to the bottom of your tongue at birth.
It is currently thought that specific genetic factors may be associated with tongue tie.
Complications From Tongue Tie
Tongue tie requires a fairly simple treatment, which we’ll get to below.
But, if left untreated by an Austin speech therapist, it can affect your baby’s oral development.
This includes the way they eat, speak, and swallow.
Let’s dive into some complications that tongue tie can lead to.
Breast Feeding Challenges
Tongue tie can lead to breast feeding challenges because it requires that your baby is able to keep their tongue over their lower gums while sucking.
If they can’t, your baby might chew instead of suck on the nipple, which can cause intense nipple pain and interfere with their ability to get breast milk.
This is the biggest challenge because poor breast feeding can lead to inadequate nutrition.
Inadequate nutrition will interfere with your baby’s ability to thrive as they develop.
Tongue tie can affect your child’s ability to make certain sounds.
These sounds include:
Inability to create these sounds can cause an articulation disorder.
Poor Oral Hygiene
If tongue tie persists into adulthood, it can make it difficult to clean your mouth and teeth from food debris.
Plus, this can lead to the greater formation of a gap between your bottom two front teeth.
This gap would require treatment that can be expensive because aesthetic procedures are often not covered by insurance.
Poor oral hygiene can also lead to tooth decay and the inflammation of your gums, which is also called gingivitis.
Other Challenges Associate With Tongue Tie
Tongue tie can also lead to a variety of other oral challenges.
Some examples include trouble:
- Playing a wind instrument
How To Treat Tongue Tie
To treat tongue tie, most doctors recommend a simple cut to release the frenulum, which is a fold of skin that prevents an organ from moving too far.
You can find one under your tongue if you have tongue tie.
This procedure is called a frenotomy.
If further repair is necessary, or if your lingual frenulum is too thick for a frenotomy, then a frenuloplasty is required.
This is a more extensive procedure.
How Can Speech Therapy Help With Tongue Tie?
Like we said above, most doctors would recommend a frenectomy to first address the root cause of tongue tie.
This is because the tongue must first have its full range of motion before starting speech therapy.
Prior to this procedure, you may have noticed that your child sounded slushy when making particular sounds.
The level of this slushy sound would vary depending on the degree of tongue tie.
Post surgical treatment, your child may have ingrained some of those habits and sound like they are developing a speech impediment.
That’s where a speech therapist comes in.
The sooner you’re able to bring your child in to get assessed if you hear that they might be developing a speech impediment after their tongue tie has been resolved, the better.
It will take some retraining, but your child should have a full range of speech and forget those prior bad habits with time.
Book Your Appointment With Sol Speech & Language Therapy Today
As you can see, tongue tie can be a challenging condition if not addressed right away.
The good news is that a frenotomy is a safe procedure with a permanent effect.
After that, if you notice your child has developed a speech impediment as a result of their tongue tie, you should see a speech therapist to resolve that.
Book an appointment with Sol Speech and Language Therapy today to get started.
If you’re ready to take the next step, reach out today for a free phone consultation.Sol Speech & Language Therapy
6448 E Hwy 290 Suite E-106,
Austin, TX 78723
Sol Speech & Language Therapy is located in sunny Austin, Texas and offers personalized skilled intervention to those struggling with their speech and language skills. Services offered include screening, consultation, and comprehensive evaluation. We also provide one-on-one and/or group therapy for speech sound disorders, receptive/expressive language delay/disorder, stuttering/cluttering, accent reduction, and much more.