Tongue Tie – Tongue Disorder In Infants

Tongue-tie is a birth defect that limits the range of movement of the tongue. Known as, Ankyloglossia in medical parlance, tongue-tie is believed to be an inherited disorder that tend to run in families. The frenulums of babies born with tied tongues are abnormally short. Frenulum is the membrane with which the tongue is held to the mouth floor.

Symptoms of tongue-tie

Babies with tongue-tie often have difficulties in breastfeeding. Early diagnosis of this tongue disorder is necessary to treat feeding problems in infants. If you suspect that your baby has this problem, you should rush the infant to the doctor as early as possible. Often the tip of the tongue of a tongue-tied baby appears heart shaped when the child sticks the tongue out. However, a heart shaped tongue tip does not always indicate that the child has restricted tongue movement. Even a baby with normal tongue function could have a heart-shaped tongue. Often infants suffering from this tongue disorder might not exhibit this classical symptom of tongue-tie.

Usually tongue-tied infants could find it difficult to extend their tongues beyond the gum line. If your baby is suffering from tongue-tie, he/she could hardly touch the upper teeth with the tongue. The tongue could not be moved from side to side. Sometimes babies suffering from this tongue disorder might have round or square tongue tip.

Breast feeding problems

Often tongue-tied babies develop breastfeeding problems. If the baby fails to position his/her tongue properly while sucking the nipple, he/she will end up chewing the nipple. Lactating mothers of tongue-tied babies develop sore nipples as the baby chews the nipple instead of sucking it while feeding. Usually the nipple pain is lesser during the early phase of breastfeeding when the milk is flowing at a faster pace. Most tongue-tied babies are able to extend their tongues properly when the milk flow is fast. However, as the milk flow decreases, the infants requires extra effort to suck the nipple. The pain in the nipple usually intensifies at the end of the feeding when the tongue-tied baby fails to suck the nipple and starts chewing it.

Tongue-tie treatment

Mild symptoms of tied tongues do not need any treatment. However, if this tongue disorder causes serious feeding problems, your baby might require surgery for treating this tongue disorder.