Confusion to Clarity
WHAT IS TONGUE – TIE?
Tongue-tie (ankyloglossia) is a condition in which an extra thin membrane, also called frenulum, attached to the base of the tongue. So the base of the tongue is anchored to the floor of the mouth and it may restrict the mobility of the tongue.
How common is the problem?
Varies from 1 to 10% of the babies but in general occurs in arround 3% of babies.
Does it run in families?
Tongue-tie often runs in families . Some relatives may only have mild effects or no apparent Symptoms while others may show a severe imapct on structure and functions of the tongue.
What is a Lip-tie?
Inside the mouth, under the upper lip and roughly between the two front teeth is a piece of skin which connects to the upper gum. This piece of skin is called the labial frenulum. In some babies it is too short or thick and too tightly pinned to the upper gum, restricting movement of the upper lip. When this occurs the baby is said to have a lip-tie.
How does Tongue-tie/Lip-tie affect breastfeeding?
The baby may not be able to open their mouth wide enough to take in a full mouthful of breast tissue. This can result in ‘nipple-feeding’ because the nipple is not drawn far enough back in the baby’s mouth and constantly rubs against the baby’s hard palate as they feed. As a result,the mother is likely to suffer nipple trauma and the baby may not feed effectively which may lead to issues like colic, poor weight gain etc.
What are signs of Tongue-tie and Lip-tie?
If you or your baby has some of many of above mentioned issues, a thorough assessment by a lactation consultant or paediatrician will help in deciding whether your baby requires Tongue-tie or Lip-tie snipping(Frenotomy).
What is the treatment?
Tongue-tie or Lip-tie release (Frenotomy) along with breastfeeding support and counselling from a lactation consultant and mother and child nurse. Tongue-tie is unlikely to improve by its own without frenotomy. If frenotomy is not done, its impact on feeding may improve with time as with time your baby learns to adapt to feeding with tongue tie. However this learning path may be painful for both baby & mother.
What are the long term implications if frenotomy is not done?
May cause speech articulation problem. May cause increased interdental space . May cause difficulty in oral hygiene.
What is a Frenotomy?
- Frenotomy is a release or cut of the tongue tie by an experienced health care professional ,so that the tongue can move more freely.
- The release of tongue-tie involves the clinician placing a finger and thumb under the baby’s tongue to gain the clear access to the frenulum.
- Generally no local anaesthesia is needed and with the use of sterile scissors the frenulum is released.
- The procedure is generally not very painful and some babies may be upset due to being held wrapped and having fingers placed in the mouth.