It is uncommon to lead a life without moving your tongue. Think how difficult it would be if such a scenario happens. Your tongue is the major organ for tasting the food you desire and to express your feelings with better communication. With the restriction in its movements, it’s pretty hard to survive as you wish. Apparently, certain condition will hold the movement and one among that is ‘ tongue-tie’. 

What is tongue-tie?

Tongue-tie is nothing but the fusion of your tongue with the floor of the mouth. In general, we all have thin fibrous tissue that connects the tongue and the floor of the mouth, that helps in free movement of the tongue. However, sometimes, if this attachment is too short or much anteriorly placed, it fuses the tongue with the base. Depending on the level of attachment, severity varies and fusion might become complete or partial. 

Tongue-tie could be congenital, genetic or it occurs due to trauma during the fetal developmental phase of the tongue. In any of the above, fusion might occur.

What are the problems one could face due to tongue-tie?

Tongue movement restriction :

These strong fibrous attachments restrict the tongue from moving freely around the oral cavity. It is pretty difficult to pull the tongue out. Forcing the tongue out or trying to rotate around the mouth would cause pain and discomfort. Sometimes, it might also injure the tongue. 

Speech hinderance :

With restricted tongue movements, it is impossible to pronounce and talk properly. Since tongue-tie is seen from one’s birth, a child would likely lose his/her ability to speak. Toddlers phase of life is very crucial from developing cognitive skills and to acquire a sense of communication. Having tongue-tie could falsely predetermine a child’s speaking ability and put their life in vain.

Feeding problem :

Infants have a natural suckling reflex for breastfeeding or in fact to bottle nursing. However, due to tongue-tie, they have poor sucking capacity. As a consequence, the child would be malnourished, low-weight and literally struggles to eat in spite of increased appetite and hunger. When they grow up, they also face difficulty in chewing food. As a result, their nutrient supplement is typically compromised. 

Tongue bite :

Most often, kids tend to injure their tongue by biting it due to their restricted movement. Anterior open bite and lisping of lower lips are sorts of indication for tongue-tie.

How to find whether your child has tongue-tie or not?

While sticking tongue out, there appears a V-shaped notch, and that hinders the outward movement of the tongue

tongue-tie

Picture courtesy

Because of this strong frenum attachment, when the child grows older, the gap might develop in between the front lower teeth. It becomes pretty difficult to cleanse the mouth properly, causing blooming of microbial growth and consequently into various gum disease. 

 How to manage tongue-tie?

Counselling :

Educating parents about tongue-tie and its possible clinical outcomes are utmost important to give them an overall idea and to make them understand what are all ways their child could suffer. Simply pressuring the kids are of no use without sorting out the root cause. 

Speech therapy :

Since the child will have hinderance in tongue movement, extra care should be taken when they struggle to speak. Speech therapy at the right time would certainly help to boost their confidence and guide them for having better communication. 

Tongue positioning :

Your lactation consultant or pediatrist would guide to help your child to position the tongue while feeding. By properly adapting to these positions, the child could able to develop better suckling reflex and fed better. 

Surgery :

Surgical removal of the fibrous tissue is one better option to overcome tongue-tie. It’s a minor surgical procedure called frenectomy, which could heal in a day or two. Generally, surgery is recommended when there is a complete fusion of the tongue with the base, or when the child faces many difficulties in feeding and nursing and struggle to get adequately nourished. Also, when speech development is poor and when it is not improving even after speech therapy, surgery is one best option. 

Likewise,

Tongue-tie is a rare but on-going hindrance to a child’s tongue movement and treating it at the right time could save unnecessary mental and physical injuries. 

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