Most people associate the term 'tongue-tied' with difficulty expressing themselves in public, but did you know there is also a medical condition that can develop in some infants?
What is Tongue-Tie?
According to the Mayo Clinic, tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, is a condition present at birth, which restricts the tongue's range of motion. With this condition, an unusually short, thick or tight band of tissue ties up the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. This can affect the ability to eat and swallow and also the way in which a child speaks. In a baby, tongue-tie can interfere with the sucking of the breast or bottle when feeding.
What Causes Tongue-Tie?
It is not clear what causes tongue-tie in babies, but it may be hereditary. There is some research indicating that boys can be three times more likely than girls to have tongue-tie.
What are the Symptoms of Tongue-Tie?
A baby doesn't latch well to the breast, will chew instead of sucking, doesn't gain weight as expected in the first few weeks and months, gets fussy when trying to feed and takes short breaks between longer feeding periods. A clicking sound when feeding could also give you a clue that there is a problem.
Is Tongue-Tie Treatable?
There are two ways of treating tongue-tie. One is a relatively simple and painless procedure, when a doctor uses special scissors and clips the frenulum. There aren't any blood vessels in the frenulum, so there isn't much pain. Another way to treat this condition includes putting the child to sleep with anesthetics and cutting the frenulum. This procedure will need some dissolvable stitches or a laser.
There is no consensus on the best way to treat tongue-tie, however, it can cause developmental issues due to difficulty eating, so it's something to pay close attention to.