Tongue Tie

The tongue is involved in all functions of the mouth such as, sucking, swallowing, chewing and voice.  The movement of the tongue can be effected by the fold of mucous membrane (lingual frenum/frenulum) which connects the underside of the tongue to the floor of the mouth.  Tongue-tie, anklyosed tongue or lingual frenal restriction refers to a tongue which has restricted movement due to an abnormally short or fixed lingual frenum.

Due to the varying anatomical structures and associated functions of the tongue a tongue tie can effect speech, swallowing, breathing and facial growth. 

Babies and infants may have problems with breastfeeding such as latching onto the mother, sucking problems and associated poor weight gain, other issues may include excessive dribbling, in adequate feedings, reflux, vomiting or constipation the mother may also have sore and damaged nipples. Children will compensate and be able to feed however altered patterns can cause compromised resting postures of the lips and tongue in addition to the functional swallow and breathing patterns.

Speech may also be effected once again a child will compensate and articulate differently however precise articulation of /l/,/t/,/d/,/n/, /th/, /sh/,/zh/ may be difficult. 

A tongue tie may lead to misalignment of the teeth and jaw bones. For example the teeth may not meet due to the tongue resting in between; teeth may become crocked as there isn’t the space for them as the jaw doesn’t fully develop.  Individuals with tongue ties have a higher incidence of gum disease and tooth decay as plaque formation is higher and the tongue is limited to aiding natural cleansing

If a child has difficulty sticking their tongue out past the upper gums or difficulty touching the roof of their mouth when opened wide or difficulty moving the tongue from side to side then an assessment of their tongue tie may be indicated.

Guidance to the diagnostics and treatment of a tongue tie can be given by Orofacial Myologists .If required a frenectomy can be carried out by a doctor or dentist, this relatively painless procedure is where the frenum is either cut or removed. After the procedure an exercise programme to help the mobility and learn new functional patterns is highly recommended.