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Uncovering Tongue Tie: Symptoms You Should Know

Tongue-tie, also referred to as ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth that limits the tongue’s range of motion. The tip of the tongue can be anchored tightly to the floor of the mouth. This condition is becoming more recognized as the awareness of tongue tie is increasing.

When a baby is born with tongue-tie, it can lead to difficulties in breastfeeding. Infants with this condition may not be able to latch properly to their mother’s breast, leading to issues with nursing. It can also interfere with their later development, speech, and overall health. Being able to identify the signs of tongue-tie is important to ensure that the condition is treated in a timely manner. This article will explore the symptoms of tongue tie, as well as discuss how it can be effectively treated and managed.

Symptoms of Tongue Tie

Tongue tie can manifest itself in a variety of different symptoms. As many as 10% of newborns in the United States may have some form of tongue-tie. Some of the telltale signs of the condition include the following:

Poor Latch: If a baby has difficulty latching onto the mother’s breast or a bottle, this can be a sign of tongue tie. The inability to open their mouth widely enough can make it harder for a baby to efficiently move their food along.

Difficulty Swallowing: Additionally, it may take longer than usual for an infant to swallow, which can lead to frustration on their part and the part of the caregiver.

Failure to Thrive: A baby who isn’t gaining an appropriate amount of weight and has trouble growing can also be a symptom of tongue tie. The frequency of feedings, the amount of milk intake, and a decrease and an irregular sleep pattern are all signs to look out for.

Noisy Feeding: A noisy feeding, due to gulping, strong sucking, or frequent detachment, can be a sign of difficulty in coordinating swallowing or trying to compensate for reduced intake.

Gagging, Choking, and Sputtering: If a baby is showing any of these signs while feeding, it could be a result of an inability to move milk in as efficiently as possible when compared to their same-aged peers.

Diagnosing Tongue Tie

If a parent or a caregiver suspects that a baby may have tongue-tie, it is important to consult with a doctor. They will be able to take a closer look and check for some of the diagnostic signs. The doctor may be able to feel the tightness beneath the tongue. In some cases, they may use an ultrasound to get a closer look at the shape of the frenulum.

Treating Tongue-Tie

If the diagnosis of tongue-tie is confirmed, then treatment is the next step. The most common treatment for tongue-tie is a simple surgical procedure known as a frenotomy. A doctor, usually a pediatric specialist, uses sterile scissors to snip the frenulum, which allows the tongue more movement. This procedure can usually be done in the doctor’s office.

After the procedure, it will be important to work with a lactation consultant to help the baby learn how to properly latch. It is best to ensure that the wound is kept clean and to monitor it for any signs of infection.

Preventing Long-Term Effects of Tongue Tie

If tongue-tie goes untreated, it can lead to more long-term complications. For example, it can lead to speech difficulty in later childhood. Additionally, this issue can also lead to problems with chewing properly, sleep apnea in adults, and self-esteem issues.

It is important for parents and caregivers to recognize the symptoms of tongue tie and to seek medical intervention. With early intervention, the likelihood of long-term developmental issues is reduced. Parents and caregivers should also be sure to follow up on regular well-baby visits to ensure that developmental milestones are being met.

Conclusion

Tongue-tie is a common occurrence in the United States and can lead to a range of symptoms. It can be a significant obstacle to successful breastfeeding and may cause a number of problems if it is not diagnosed and treated properly. Parents and caregivers can help prevent long-term problems with a tongue-tie diagnosis by educating themselves about the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical treatment for their baby. With the right treatment, it is possible for a baby with tongue-tie to lead a happy and healthy life.