The Effect of a Tongue tie on your child?!
My child has what? Tongue tie! What is that!
Does your child have a cute lisp that you thought was funny when he/she was younger?
Unfortunately, he is not growing out of it yet! Even at 4 or older?
This can happen and there is always a reason to investigate.
Here are 5 Facts you need to know about this condition!
Let me tell you: What is a tongue tie?
A tongue tie is when the fleshy tie called “the frenulum” holds the tongue tightly to the bottom of the mouth thereby restricting the tongue from moving freely. A tight tongue restricts the movement of the tongue and the jaw bones of the child, the same way a leash restricts a dog from running around freely.
It is sad but true that Tongue ties are often missed as there are different types of tongue ties, ones that can be spotted easily (especially one where a child’s tongue looks like a heart) and others that may be missed by doctors or dentists alike. Expert tongue tie specialist always advise to look for the “posterior tongue tie” as this most commonly goes undiagnosed until some hidden consequences do show up.
Lip tie? What’s that?
A lip tie is similar to a tongue tie but it happens underneath the upper or lower lips. It may not restrict the jaws from growing as the tongue tie; however, it still may lead to some unwanted consequences that we will be discussing later.
Why does my child have one!
Reasons are largely unknown, but genetics do play such a big role and it is a problem that runs in families. So if you know you did have one as a child, or you are still suffering from sort of bite problem or malocclusion; it is best to get your child checked, just in case.
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How to know if my child has tongue tie?
In older children:
- A lisp or faulty pronunciation of some letters
- Maligned jaws
- Preference to soft food only
In breast fed babies:
- Painful nipples to the mother upon breastfeeding
- A baby who has a lot of difficulty latching on the breast, or can’t stay on the breast, especially when the mum’s milk comes in and the breasts get fuller.
- A baby who has problem in gaining weight.
- A clicking noise when the baby nurses caused by the tongue trying to lift up pulling back by the frenulum.
- Baby who can’t turn her upper lip out; if it stays tucked in, it could be a lip tie.
Be careful to diagnose your babies tongue tie early as it can affect your baby’s oral development, and the way he or she eats, speaks and swallows later in life.
What can a tight tongue and a lip tie really lead to?
- Breast-feeding problems
During the breast-feeding, your baby has to keep his/her tongue over the lower gum while sucking. If he/ she isn’t able to move the tongue or keep it in the right position, the baby may chew instead of suck on the nipple. This can cause nipple pain and interfere with a baby’s ability to get breast milk. Moreover, poor breast-feeding may lead to inadequate nutrition and failure to thrive.
- Speech difficulties
Tongue tie interferes with the ability to make certain sounds, such as “t,” “d,” “z,” “s,” “th,” “r” and “l”, or even lead to serious speech delays in children. I always advice parents to also consult with a speech consultant for an older child if they are suspecting tongue tie.
- Poor oral hygiene
For older children, tongue tie will make it difficult to sweep food debris from the teeth. It can contribute to tooth decay and inflammation of the gums.
Especially when there is a lip tie, the front teeth are painful to brush. So the child fights every time parents attempt to brush these teeth. Be careful this leads to fast decay setting in on the teeth.
- Gap between the front teeth
Tongue tie can also lead to the formation of a gap between the two bottom front teeth.
- Challenges with other oral activities
Tongue tie can interfere with activities such as licking the lips, licking an ice cream cone, kissing or playing a wind instrument.
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5. How to treat a lip tie or tongue tie?
It is best to seek an expert pediatrician’s opinion or consult with a specialist pediatric dentist who is well versed with diagnosing this condition and treating it with state of the art technology and equipment.
I always advise the parent to ask the doctor how many cases does he/she do per month. Also to ask what is the tool used.
Previously, doctors used to cut it out with scissors, however treatment of tongue ties have long improved since. Now there are many state of the art equipment that can snip this tight “frenum” with no bleeding and no pain for the baby or child.
Children recover very quickly from this procedure. Your child’s dentist will be giving you thorough instructions and recommendations for stretching, how to keep the area clean and for healing.