Only about 3 percent of babies have tongue-tie (ankyloglossia), and a majority are male. This is a condition in which there is an abnormally short lingual frenulum, which is the thin piece of skin under the tongue. Tongue-tie can be a genetic condition passed on in families. The movement of the tongue is often restricted, resulting in various problems, including difficulty swallowing. The most notable complication that can occur from birth involves breastfeeding, and other issues may become evident later on.
Multiple issues with tongue-tie can occur related to breastfeeding. A baby has to keep his tongue above the lower gum to breastfeed. An infant may have trouble latching on because he can’t move the tongue into the correct position. Instead of effectively sucking at the breast, the baby may only chew. As a result, the baby doesn’t get needed nutrition and the mother experiences significant nipple pain. Over time, if the child isn’t getting sufficient nourishment at the breast, the mother’s milk supply decreases.
Failure to Thrive
Due to poor intake of breast milk, the baby may experience failure to thrive. By definition, “failure to thrive” is arrested or decelerated physical growth, with weight and height measurements falling below the third or fifth percentile. It can also be diagnosed as a result of a downward change in growth in two major growth percentiles. It is important for parents of a baby with tongue-tie to note that failure to thrive is serious because it is associated with abnormal growth and development. Irreversible damage can be done. Only in extreme cases is the condition fatal.
A child with tongue-tie may have difficulty moving the tongue from one side to the other or lifting it to the upper teeth. Another symptom is that the tongue may look heart-shaped or notched when stuck out, though a child with this condition may not be able to stick the tongue out past the lower front teeth. The following are common complications experienced with tongue-tie, in addition to breastfeeding issues:
If your baby has difficulty breastfeeding, it could be a sign of tongue-tie, and it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a pediatrician. In the following circumstances, as well, see a doctor:
For tongue-tie issues, pediatricians often refer patients to see a specialist, such as the experienced doctors at Gep TOTs Dental Group at Woodbridge Kids Dentistry. Call Gep TOTs today at 647-492-7059, for the help you need and answers to questions about tongue-tie.