It is estimated that in America 4-11% of children are born with Ankyloglossia or a tongue-tie. However, due to a lack of examination at birth, most go undiagnosed until much later in life. While tongue-ties are not a fatal condition, they can be very limiting and cause issues with a baby's ability to breastfeed and long-term airway, sleep, and health conditions.
Tongue-ties are a congenital condition in which a child’s tongue remains attached to the floor of the mouth. This happens when the thin strip of tissue (the lingual frenulum) connecting the tongue and the floor of the mouth is shorter than normal. The short frenulum can restrict tongue mobility.
In some cases, tongue-tie can be hereditary, running in a family. The condition is also 3-times more prevalent in boys than girls.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A TONGUE-TIE?
During the regular cleaning, examine your patient for physical signs of a tongue, lip, or cheek tie. Additionally, ask questions to see if the patient is exhibiting any symptoms that might help to identify a tongue-tie limitation:
Tongue-tie may cause the following symptoms in infants:
Difficulty latching when breastfeeding
Breastfeeding for extended periods of time
Trouble gaining weight
A clicking sound while the child is feeding
In young children, tongue-tie symptoms may include:
Difficulty moving the tongue toward the roof of the mouth or from side to side
Difficulty licking ice cream
Difficulty playing a wind instrument
Problems sticking the tongue out
Breastfeeding mothers may also have symptoms related to an infant’s tongue-tie, including:
Cracked, sore nipples
Pain during nursing
Insufficient milk supply
HOW CAN MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY HELP A PATIENT WITH A TONGUE-TIE?
Pediatricians and airway dentists often work in connection with Myofuntional Therapists to treat children with tongue-ties, lip-ties, and other airway limiting oral functions.
Myofunctional therapy is an exercise-based therapy focused on the muscles of the mouth, tongue, and face. The exercises are designed specifically to train proper breathing, speaking, chewing, and swallowing.
Listen to Episode 6 of the Airway First podcast from the Children's Airway First Foundation to find out more about tongue-ties and how patients work with Myofunctional Therapists:
If you identify a child or patient with a tongue-tie, as a LifeGuard it is your responsibility to help guide them towards Myofunctional Therapy and resources that can help them with the issue. Helping them towards the proper medical care can ensure them better health for years to come.