Some parents may think that the need to treat tongue-tie is simply a fad or unnecessary. However, it’s critical to know and understand that tongue-ties have been recognized as an issue for decades, and they should not be left untreated.
Here are six facts that you may not know about tongue-ties in babies and how they can affect a child’s growth and development.
Babies and young children suffering from tongue-tie have a thick webbing of fascia that consists of collagen fibers with limited “stretch.” With the area’s ability to stretch is less than 1%, if the tongue-tie isn’t treated, a child will face difficulties in proper development. A tongue-tie won’t correct itself, and it will remain into adulthood. Left untreated, a tongue-tie will make it difficult to speak correctly, lead to snoring and even cause chronic pain in the head, shoulders, and neck.
Traditional speech therapy can not address or treat speech issues associated with tongue-tie. The therapy is not as effective because the tongue-tie itself interferes with normal-sounding speech. Additionally, as children attempt to compensate for incorrect tongue placement to speak correctly, it can lead to dental development issues. Removing the impediment at an early age is the best way to avoid potential issues in the future.
If a tongue-tie is diagnosed and is assessed to be contributing to or causing a functional problem with a child, your pediatrician may recommend a frenotomy procedure to snip the frenulum. This procedure can be performed with sterile scissors or a laser by a pediatrician, ear nose and throat (ENT) specialist, pediatric dentist, general practitioner (GP), or specially trained lactation consultant.
The clipping of the skin seems simple, but it leaves thick tissue that then needs to be released eventually. While there may be an initial improvement, the child will still need to complete post-op exercises to avoid the procedure from being incomplete or worsen from the skin tissue growing back.
Lasers are used as the safest and less painful surgery for correcting a tongue-tie issue. In addition to providing immediate healing, the tongue is more protected, and there is a reduced risk of bleeding. As previously mentioned, laser surgery can be performed by a pediatrician, ENT specialist, pediatric dentist, or GP.
There is more to consider than issues with breastfeeding with a tongue tie. When a mother tries to nurse a child with a tongue-tie, the mother can experience unnecessary pain and mental distress as the child struggles to feed. Additionally, bottle-fed babies also suffer from tongue-tie, which leads to other health issues. Excessive gas, slow feeding, milk leaking out of the mouth, and reflux are commonly seen in babies with tongue-tie.
While the issue may correct itself with time, a tongue-tie procedure will allow for the mother and baby to bond and enjoy a better quality of life rather than struggling.
There are several indications that a baby’s tongue needs to be assessed, especially during breastfeeding. While these signs can be due to a range of other breastfeeding-related issues, they are commonly linked to tongue-tie.
The most common signs include:
The best way to avoid potential dental development and speech issues is to have a child adequately assessed and treated for tongue-tie. By removing the impediment at an early age, many issues can be avoided altogether. To learn more about tongue-ties in children, or to have your child evaluated, contact Tompkins Dental today.