Tongue Tie
Ankyloglossia or tongue tie is a congenital oral anomaly caused by an unusually thick, or unusually short, lingual frenulum. The lingual frenulum is a small fold of mucous membrane that extends from the floor of the mouth to the midline of the underside of the tongue. Find your own lingual frenulum by looking in the mirror, opening you mouth, and stretching your tongue towards the palate. See the whitish cord beneath your tongue? Ankyloglossia or tongue tie, is simply a lingual frenulum that is tight enough to restrict the movement of the tongue.
Can you describe the treatment for a baby that is tongue tied? Does it hurt?

The infant frenectomy is a straightforward outpatient procedure that can be completed during the same visit as the initial assessment. If a release is recommended, the treatment takes only a few minutes and a baby can go to the breast immediately following. The baby is swaddled and safety goggles are always used to protect baby’s eyes – I use a pen-sized laser on infants to remove the tight lingual frenulum. I apply an effective topical anesthetic gel on the frenular tissue prior to treatment, allowing for zero to minimal discomfort during the procedure. The anesthetic lasts for approximately 30 minutes.

Effects of untreated tongue tie into childhood and adulthood

Untreated tongue ties in infants can lead to difficulty chewing and swallowing firmer foods, altered jaw and dental development including a high palate and narrow facial structure, poor sleep patterns, mouth breathing, and increased gas and bloating resulting from poor tongue coordination and corresponding swallowing of air. Significant ties may result in delayed speech development due to the tongue being restricted in movement. Also, when tongue movement is restricted, the tongue cannot sweep across tooth surfaces and spread saliva, both crucial to oral cleansing.

What types of breastfeeding issues may mothers of tongue tied babies face?
Studies have shown that an infant with ankyloglossia can have issues latching, gaining weight, creating suction and staying awake during feeds due to the extra exertion required. In addition, mothers with infants who are tongue tied may experience significant pain in their nipples, to the extent that they can become cracked and abscessed. If symptoms including inadequate latch, poor breast draining, painful nipples and/or fussiness at the breast have not improved and a lactation consultant is concerned about a possible tongue tie, she will refer over mom and baby.
The importance of a lactation consultant and post-procedure care

Breathe to Thrive is at the forefront of this therapy, boasting a licensed team of medical professionals that include a licensed lactation consultant qualified to properly assess oral restrictions in infants. When communicating with moms pre-treatment, we cannot stress enough the importance of continued lactation support following the frenectomy procedure.

It is not only the tongue and jaw that prove to be key components in breastfeeding but in fact, the whole body. For this reason, tongue tied babies often have additional structural stressors to be addressed and I will recommend taking baby to see a bodyworker, a licensed professional such as an occupational, craniosacral or physical therapist. Bodywork encourages body awareness and encourages an infant to express postural reflexes and explore natural movement inclinations through the nervous system. After a tongue tie release, the infant’s tongue will need to adapt to a new and profound range of motion.

Can you describe the treatment for a baby that is tongue tied? Does it hurt?

The infant frenectomy is a straightforward outpatient procedure that can be completed during the same visit as the initial assessment. If a release is recommended, the treatment takes only a few minutes and a baby can go to the breast immediately following. The baby is swaddled and safety goggles are always used to protect baby’s eyes – I use a pen-sized laser on infants to remove the tight lingual frenulum. I apply an effective topical anesthetic gel on the frenular tissue prior to treatment, allowing for zero to minimal discomfort during the procedure. The anesthetic lasts for approximately 30 minutes.

What types of breastfeeding issues may mothers of tongue tied babies face?
Studies have shown that an infant with ankyloglossia can have issues latching, gaining weight, creating suction and staying awake during feeds due to the extra exertion required. In addition, mothers with infants who are tongue tied may experience significant pain in their nipples, to the extent that they can become cracked and abscessed. If symptoms including inadequate latch, poor breast draining, painful nipples and/or fussiness at the breast have not improved and a lactation consultant is concerned about a possible tongue tie, she will refer over mom and baby.
Effects of untreated tongue tie into childhood and adulthood

Untreated tongue ties in infants can lead to difficulty chewing and swallowing firmer foods, altered jaw and dental development including a high palate and narrow facial structure, poor sleep patterns, mouth breathing, and increased gas and bloating resulting from poor tongue coordination and corresponding swallowing of air. Significant ties may result in delayed speech development due to the tongue being restricted in movement. Also, when tongue movement is restricted, the tongue cannot sweep across tooth surfaces and spread saliva, both crucial to oral cleansing.

The importance of a lactation consultant and post-procedure care

Breathe to Thrive is at the forefront of this therapy, boasting a licensed team of medical professionals that include a licensed lactation consultant qualified to properly assess oral restrictions in infants. When communicating with moms pre-treatment, we cannot stress enough the importance of continued lactation support following the frenectomy procedure.

It is not only the tongue and jaw that prove to be key components in breastfeeding but in fact, the whole body. For this reason, tongue tied babies often have additional structural stressors to be addressed and I will recommend taking baby to see a bodyworker, a licensed professional such as an occupational, craniosacral or physical therapist. Bodywork encourages body awareness and encourages an infant to express postural reflexes and explore natural movement inclinations through the nervous system. After a tongue tie release, the infant’s tongue will need to adapt to a new and profound range of motion.

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