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What Does Tongue Tie Look Like? Identifying the Signs

When newborns struggle to nurse, it can cause a lot of worry for parents. Often, when faced with a nursing-related problem, one of the first things that healthcare professionals will consider is tongue tie. Tongue tie, or ankyloglossia, can make breastfeeding difficult, and it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of tongue tie, and what it looks like, in order to properly identify and diagnose the condition.

Understanding Tongue-Tie

Tongue tie is a condition that occurs when the the tongue is tethered to the floor of the mouth by a band of tissue called the frenulum. This condition can make it difficult for a newborn to latch on and nurse properly. In some cases, a tongue tie may resolve itself as the baby grows, but in many cases medical intervention is required.

There are two types of tongue-tie that may affect a newborn. In anterior tongue-tie, the frenulum connects the front of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. In posterior tongue-tie, the frenulum connects the midline of the tongue to the posterior floor of the mouth. Both varieties can cause nursing difficulties, and should be evaluated and treated by a medical professional.

Signs and Symptoms of Tongue-Tie

The signs and symptoms of tongue-tie vary depending on how severe the condition is. In some cases, a tongue tie may cause no symptoms at all. In other cases, a tongue-tied baby may struggle to nurse because he or she can’t latch on correctly.

However, there are a few signs that a baby may have a tongue tie. For example, a tongue-tied baby may have difficulty sticking his tongue out of his mouth, and may even have trouble lifting his tongue up to touch the roof of his mouth. A baby with a tongue tie may also have difficulty latching onto the nipple, or may seem easily frustrated when trying to nurse.

Other signs of tongue-tie include poor weight gain, and increased gas or acid reflux. In some more severe cases, a tongue tie may cause difficulty swallowing or speech disorders. It’s important to remember that not all babies with a tongue tie will experience all of these symptoms.

Diagnosing and Treating Tongue Tie

If a parent suspects that their child may have a tongue tie, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. A healthcare professional will be able to examine the baby and determine if a tongue tie is the issue. They may also use an imaging test such as an ultrasound to get a better look at the tongue-frenulum connection.

If a tongue tie is confirmed, the good news is that it can be fairly simple to correct. The most common treatment for a tongue tie is a quick and safe in-office procedure called a frenotomy. This procedure involves cutting the frenulum and can often be done with little to no pain for the baby. The baby may need a little time to heal afterwards, but most babies are able to resume nursing shortly after the procedure.

Conclusion

Tongue tie is a fairly common condition that occurs in newborns. It can make nursing difficult, and may also cause other symptoms such as poor weight gain, gas, and acid reflux. It’s important to know what tongue-tie looks like, as well as the signs and symptoms, in order to properly diagnose and treat the condition. If a parent suspects that their baby may have a tongue tie, it’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Most cases of tongue tie can be easily treated with a simple and safe in-office procedure called a frenotomy.