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There seems to be a lot of confusion about tongue ties. The medical world has varying opinions about how to evaluate a tongue tie and, if one is present, what should be done to treat it. Or… does it need to be treated?
Types of Tongue Ties
Let’s get some terms out of the way. It’s important to know that a tongue tie is also called ankyloglossia and falls under the umbrella of Tethered Oral Tissues (TOTs). Other oral tissues that may be “tethered” (restricted in movement) are your buccal frenulum and the frenula under your upper and lower lips. A frenulum is a band of tissue that exists to secure a mobile part of the body (and a lingual frenulum is the one under the tongue).
The kind of tongue tie we might picture is just one type – an anterior (in the front) tie. This is where the tip of the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth. But there are also posterior tongue ties where the attachment is farther back. Posterior ties are harder to diagnose and often get missed. But they can cause a lot of difficulties.
The kind of tongue tie we might picture is just one type – an anterior (in the front) tie. This is where the tip of the tongue is attached to the floor of the mouth.
How to Tell if Your Child Has Tethered Oral Tissue
A tongue tie should be ruled out if your child is having any of the following difficulties:
- breastfeeding difficulties (and at times, bottle feeding)
- difficulties latching on to the breast
- difficulties keeping a proper seal
- clicking sounds while nursing
- painful nursing
For Older Children
- feeding difficulties
- difficulties with oral hygiene
- difficulties using one’s tongue to move food around the mouth properly
- excessive drooling
- difficulties with speech sounds
- tongue thrust
- mouth breathing
- holding an open-mouth posture at rest
- jaw tension (and more!)
Different medical professionals deal with tongue ties. They include family practitioners, pediatricians, otolaryngologists (ENTs), speech pathologists, oral facial myologists, lactation consultants, and dentists. However, these professionals vary in their experience and education. If you think your child might have a tongue tie (or tethered oral tissue), make sure you connect with a medical professional that has experience in this area.
If your child has a tongue tie, the good news is that a tie release can be a very simple procedure with fast healing and very low risks. There are multiple ways a tongue tie (or tethered oral tissue) can be released.
For more on this topic, refer to:
If you suspect your child may have a tongue tie, connect with us for an evaluation. Our SLPs can help determine if your child would benefit from further consultation with an ENT or a pediatric dentist. We can also provide speech, oral motor, and feeding treatment pre- and post-frenectomy procedures.
The medical world has varying opinions about how to evaluate a tongue tie and, if one is present, what should be done to treat it. Or not.
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