Tongue tie (also known as ankyloglossia) is a congenital (birth) condition which affects the range of movement of the tongue as the tissue underneath the tongue (the frenulum) is tight and prevents the tongue from elevating and protruding . This is usually detected in newborns as they may present with feeding difficulties and/or may cause damage to mother’s nipples when breastfeeding due to not being able to latch effectively. Sometimes the restricted tongue movement may result in speech difficulties in children, and in some cases it may go undetected until adulthood.
Infant with tongue tie.(Image courtesy of www.gatewaypediatricsaz.com)
The common treatment for tongue tie involves cutting the frenulum with surgical scissors under local (gel) anaesthetic, however if the frenulum is tight further back under the tongue, known as a posterior tongue tie, the cut may require laser surgery.
My own son was born with a tongue tie which we had released (cut) when he was 2 weeks old – the cut made an improvement to his latch, however as an osteopath I recognised the function of the tongue muscles and the jaw were also affected. Post tongue tie release exercises, involving stretching the muscles and the jaw, improved his feeding even further, and should always be undertaken after having the tongue released.
If your child is causing pain or damage when breastfeeding, or if they are having latching or feeding difficulties consulting a lactation consultant to review whether a tongue tie may be present should be considered, followed by a visit to an osteopath to review the function of the tongue and jaw.