What Exactly Is Tongue-Tie And What Can I Do About It?

A tongue-tie is a condition present at birth, where a baby's oral movement is restricted so tight that they cannot move their tongue correctly. 

It happens when the strip of skin that attaches the tongue to the base of the mouth known as the frenulum is too short, tight or in some cases, thick. 

A tongue-tie can be mild or severe; it all depends on how much extra tissue is under the tongue and in most, if not all cases can be rectified with a minor procedure. 

Are there any complications with tongue-tie?

Some babies with tongue-tie may not seem bothered by it at all. It may not cause any issues, but for others, it can restrict the tongue's movement making it difficult to breastfeed.

Longterm, it may resolve naturally as the mouth develops, but for others, if left untreated, it can cause speech issues and difficulties eating certain foods. 

How does it affect breastfeeding?

For breastfed babies, a tongue-tie can cause a whole range of issues. Breastfeeding requires babies to keep their tongue over the lower gum line when sucking, and if a baby is unable to move their tongue or keep it in the right position, it can prevent a baby's ability to get breast milk.  What Exactly Is Tongue-Tie And What Can I Do About It?

Other tongue-tie complications for breastfed babies include:

Clicking sounds or noises during milk feeds, difficulties getting baby to latch correctly and keeping them attached, baby losing weight or having issues gaining weight, unsettled or restlessness during breastfeeding, excessive drooling during feeds and baby seems to be hungry all the time even after long nursing sessions.

Tongue-tie can also cause problems for breastfeeding mothers such as sore or cracked nipples, engorgement, distorted nipple shape after breastfeeding, low milk supply and mastitis can also be a reoccurring issue. 

What should I do if I suspect my baby has a tongue-tie?

If you suspect your baby has a tongue-tie see your public health nurse, midwife, GP or an accredited lactation consultant who will be able to confirm or deny your findings and will best advise you what to go next. 

What is a frenotomy?

Some babies need a frenotomy, a procedure commonly used to release the tongue-tie to help the various feeding challenges. 

With sterile scissors, a doctor will make a small incision cutting the thin membrane to release it. It is a quick and easy procedure, and in most cases, babies are more upset by being held down than having the minor operation done. There may be a small amount of bleeding, but it will stop after a few minutes.

Kellie Kearney

Kellie Kearney is a Dublin mammy of five kids aged newborn right up to nine. She loves coffee, cloth nappies, travel and sharing her every day true to life family moments on Instagram.

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