Tongue Tie in Babies – Symptoms, Effects and Treatment

Tongue tie in babies is a medical condition that some children are born with. Early diagnosis and effective treatment may release your child from this condition. Around 1 in 25 babies are estimated to born with tight frenulum. Research shows that it is found in more number of boy babies.

The medical term for Tongue Tie is Ankyloglossia. It occurs when the thin string of tissue called lingual frenulum that attaches the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth is unusually short.

Tongue tie affects the way a child feeds, speaks, and swallows. In babies, tongue tie may interfere with breast feeding which may hinder weight gaining process.  It also stops your baby from moving her tongue freely or sticking it out from her mouth. Tongue tie may not cause problems if it is diagnosed and treated when the child is younger.

Tongue Tie in Babies - Symptoms, Effects and Treatment

“Tongue Tie Varies from Child to Child…

The degree of tongue tie varies from mild to severe. In mild cases, the tongue would be attached by a thin hair like tissue called the Mucous membrane. While in severe cases, the tongue would be completely bound to the floor of the mouth.

Oftentimes, it’s difficult to diagnose a mild tongue tie; and therefore there is no steadfast count on how common this is in infants.

Few studies suggest that tongue tie may run in families, although there is no acute evidence that proves this is a genetic disorder.

Symptoms of Tongue Tie

The symptoms are not prominent in very mild tongue tie. However, here are few signs that you can look for;

  1. Your baby will have trouble latching on the breast
  2. Incorrect latch may make your baby slip off from the breast while feeding
  3. The small gape would cause your babe to grind or bite while breast feeding
  4. Is restless or unsettled during feeds
  5. Frequent demand for feeds
  6. Would feed for unusually longer periods
  7. Make clicking sound while feeding
  8. Dribble during feed due to unfitting latch
  9. Baby may feel hungry even after a long feed
  10. May vomit straight after a feed

Your baby may not show all of the above symptoms of tongue tie. You should bear in mind that breast feeding is not a smooth journey for many moms. These symptoms may also be associated with other conditions like fussy babies at night, cluster feeding and even teething.

Lot of other things can trigger feeding problems, including the way you sit and hold the baby. The symptoms may always not denote tongue tie in your baby. You may experience sore and painful nipples too. So the best bet would be is talking to your lactation counsellor or health care provider to identify the reason behind incorrect latching.  If tongue tie cause serious feeding problem, it will not let your baby to gain weight as expected.

The condition will also interfere with bottle feeding, making it difficult to have a good seal around the teat.

Effects of Tongue Tie in Babies

  • Baby will suffer from speech problems such as slurred pronunciation and altered sounds.
  • Will have problem swallowing and eating food.
  • Will be unable to produce certain sounds like ‘i’, ‘z’,‘d’, ‘i’, ‘th’ and ‘s’ or roll an ‘r’.
  • Not able to freely move tongue and collect food particles from the teeth may cause poor oral hygiene.
  • Interfere with activities like licking ice cream, kissing, playing mouth organs and wind instruments or licking lips.
  • Bottle fed babies may suffer from colic and hiccups as a result of leaking milk and swallowing air.

Treatment for Tongue Tie in Babies

At times the thin tissue automatically stretches or goes away in mild cases and your baby may not require any treatment at all.

However in severe cases, when it is actually causing a problem, the only treatment that is suggested is a surgery that snips the string at the base of the tongue. This surgery is called Frenulotomy.

There’s nothing to worry as the procedure is totally painless. In fact your baby may sleep through it and can go back to breast feed within an hour of the surgery. This surgery can be performed on few days old baby as well.

The area is numbed before snipping the frenulum. In older children, a local anaesthetic is injected before the surgery.

The operation will not cause any bleeding. Feeding is the best solution if there’s any bleeding as feeding compresses the floor of the mouth and soothes the incision.

Although it is a simple procedure, make sure you get this done by a trained doctor.


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