Tongue Tie

tounge tie in babies & toddlers

What is tongue tie?

A tongue-tie occurs when the embryological remnant of the tissue attaching the tongue to the floor of the mouth does not disappear when an infant is born. A lip-tie is when the upper lip remains attached to the upper gum.

There are different grades of tongue tie depending on where the tie is attached to the tongue and how much the movement of the tongue is affected.

How is it diagnosed?

It is often missed since it is not routinely checked for. However it can cause problems with breastfeeding and sometimes bottle feeding since the infant cannot latch correctly if at all.

The mother may have problems getting the baby to latch; or suffer with painful nipples or mastitis; or in worse cases the baby may fail to gain weight since he cannot get enough milk. It can be diagnosed by looking in the baby’s mouth and by also palpating under the tongue for a ridge, as well as assessing the mobility of the tongue. In some cases, there may be a tongue tie but the issue with latching is not the tongue but a restriction in the baby’s neck or jaw or sometimes further down the baby’s spine.
From my experience, it is usually better to get the baby checked by an osteopath before getting the tongue released. I have seen some cases where getting the tongue release done has made no difference to feeding or baby’s symptoms. In many cases it has helped but usually some body work is also needed.


How does it affect the baby?
For most babies it can contribute to issues with wind due to swallowing too much air during feeds. It can in some cases contribute to reflux if the posterior part of the tongue is not moving properly. For most babies it is also going to affect how they feed. Since their tongues are not moving as they should, they can spill a lot of milk during feeds, or have difficulty latching onto the breast or bottle, they may get very unsettled or frustrated during feeds, it can become painful for mum and can cause mastitis or cracked nipples. Later on it can affect spoon feeds and speech.



What are the treatment options?

First of all get assessed by a lactation consultant or an osteopath specialising in babies. Sometimes a few treatments with an osteopath will resolve the problem and help the baby adapt better to the tongue movement by freeing up any other restrictions.

If breastfeeding, the lactation specialist can give you advice to help improve the latch. Sometimes, a minor surgical procedure is done to release the tongue. It is being recommended by most experts that the baby receives osteopathic treatment before and after to help speed up recovery and reduce the chance of reattachment of the tie.

I can refer you to the appropriate options depending on what we find with your baby.

babies tounge tie

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