While the term "tongue-tied" is a figure of speech referring to someone too shy or embarrassed to speak, it is an actual medical diagnosis as well. Tongue-tie (without the d) is a condition that affects how a child moves their tongue and can often cause latching issues at birth and speech and eating difficulties later. Here's what you need to know about the symptoms, causes, and treatment options for tongue-tie.
What Is Tongue-Tie?
Tongue-tie (or ankyloglossia) refers to a condition where there is an abnormally short or thick band of tissue connecting the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth, affecting how far back your child can stretch their tongue and how mobile it is when they talk or eat. The severity of this condition can vary from person to person. While some may experience milder effects, others may find that this issue greatly hinders them.
What Are Symptoms of Tongue-Tie?
The symptoms associated with tongue-tie are varied and depend largely on its severity. However, commonly reported symptoms include difficulty latching onto a breast or bottle during feeding, excessive drooling, difficulty forming certain sounds properly while speaking, gagging while chewing food due to lack of mobility in their tongue, and pain or discomfort when trying to stretch out their tongue too far.
What Causes Tongue-Tie?
The exact cause behind why some people develop tongue-tie is still unknown. However, experts believe that genetics and other environmental factors, such as nutrition or lifestyle choices during pregnancy, are likely at play here.
What Are Tongue-Tie Releases?
To treat this condition, many doctors will suggest a tongue release procedure known as frenotomy to regain full functionality. During this procedure, a doctor will use either scissors or laser technology to cut the band of tissue connecting the bottom of your child's tongue with the floor of their mouth, allowing them greater mobility when talking and eating without the risk of further complications.
The tissue has few nerve endings or blood vessels, so it is a fairly quick and painless procedure.
What Is the Recovery Time for Tongue-Tie Release Services?
Most people who undergo frenotomy report feeling only minor discomfort following treatment. In fact, the procedure is so simple that some infants have it performed before they even leave the hospital. For others, tongue-tie releases are performed in a doctor's office.
During recovery, it's important to maintain proper hygiene to minimize any potential infection risk.
Tongue-tie can affect children both linguistically and nutritionally if left untreated, which is why early diagnosis and intervention are key. If you suspect your child may have this condition, it's important that you contact a doctor so they can provide tongue release treatment.