Tongue ties are a common occurrence in babies. When the tissue below their tongue is too restricted, unfortunately, it can be problematic when it comes to breastfeeding, resulting in a host of problems. If you’ve noticed your baby isn’t gaining weight as they should, and you’re asking, “can tongue tie cause malnutrition in children,” read on to find out just how impactful this connective tissue can be on your child’s ability to grow and develop at a healthy rate.
What is Tongue Tie?
Tongue tie is also known as the lingual frenulum, which is the connective tissue that exists beneath the tongue and connects to the floor of the mouth. While some people experience a full range of motion, others are restricted due to a short or thick frenulum. This can be a problem for infants as they try to nurse.
The symptoms associated with tongue tie usually include:
- Gassy or hungry baby
- Mouth breathing
- Difficulty breastfeeding
- Frequent or long feedings
- Clicking sounds while breastfeeding
- Minimal or slow weight gain
- Food aversions
- Gagging or choking while attempting to feed
Can It Cause Malnutrition?
The only way to truly determine if your child’s tongue tie is causing problems with weight gain or breastfeeding is to take them to your dentist for a consultation. While there are instances where children do experience slow or minimal weight gain due to a restricted frenulum, it is also possible there could be other issues such as the baby’s inability to suck with enough force while breastfeeding.
During your appointment, your child’s dentist will discuss your current situation and whether you are noticing any other problems developing. After checking the tongue tie, he will make a determination as to whether it should be treated or left alone.
How is it Treated?
Fortunately, more and more dentists are incorporating effective and beneficial treatments for tongue tie. Performing what is known as a frenectomy, the dentist can loosen the tissue to allow your child to freely move their tongue in any direction. This will make the breastfeeding experience much more normal, relaxed, and enjoyable for both you and your baby.
Using a soft tissue laser, the dentist can quickly remove enough tissue to allow the tongue to move without restriction. This method of treatment reduces bleeding and eliminates the need for stitches. Oftentimes, the procedure is so quick, many infants do not even require anesthesia.
About the Author
Dr. Tad Morgan attended Abilene Christian University before going on to Baylor College of Dentistry. Graduating in 1997, he completed a general residency at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. With more than 1,000 continuing education hours, he has studied at the Pankey Institute and under Larry Rosenthal and David Hornbrook. Dr. Morgan and his team strive to help patients no matter the age, so if, for instance, your baby or child is experiencing a tongue tie, he is equipped to treat the problem with care and ease. To learn more about Dr. Morgan and how he can help your baby be free of a tongue tie that is holding them back from adequate feeding, contact us at (903) 825-1112.