What is tongue tie?
Tongue tie - also known as ankyloglossia - is a condition characterised by restricted motion of the tongue caused by being tethered to the base of the mouth. Usually, an abnormally short and thick tissue band, called lingual frenulum, holds the tongue close to the mouth floor. Tongue tie blocks the tongue to achieve its full range of motion.
Tongue tie is present at birth, and it can make latching and breastfeed difficult for your baby.
Older children with tongue tie would typically have difficulties sticking out their tongue. Their speech, as well as their ability to eat and swallow, may also be affected, causing a delay in talking or difficulties in saying certain words.
What is a tongue-tie and how is it treated?
If you need help with tongue tie, please contact Mr Giuliani now:
How common is tongue tie?
Tongue tie can affect up to 10% of newborn babies. It is slightly more common in boys, and it can run in families.
Symptoms of tongue tie
The predominant symptoms of tongue tie include difficulty sticking your tongue out further than the lower front teeth; trouble lifting the tongue up to your upper teeth; difficulty moving your tongue from side to side; and a tongue which appears to be a 'heart shape' when stuck out; difficulty in making certain sounds such as "t", "d", "z", "s".
You should see a children's surgeon if: your baby's tongue tie is causing difficulty with latching and breastfeeding; your toddler is not able to lick an ice cream cone or is struggling with speech; a midwife or a speech and language therapist believe that your child has a tongue tie.
Treatment options for tongue tie
Tongue tie is usually diagnosed via a physical examination. In the case of infants, a screening tool might be used in order to assess various elements of the tongue's movement ability, appearance and effectiveness in latching and sucking the breast milk.
Correcting tongue tie is an easy procedure with a low risk of complications. In the less severe cases of tongue tie, treatment may not be necessary.
When tongue tie is causing problems, a procedure to release the tongue tie may be required. The most common type of surgery to remove a tongue tie is called frenotomy or frenectomy.
A frenotomy is routinely done during the outpatient consultation for babies within the first three months of life. This procedure is simple for an expert paediatric surgeon as it involves snipping the frenulum free using sterile scissors. As there are not many blood vessels or nerves endings in the lingual frenulum within the first three months of life, it is recommended to release the tongue tie in babies before this age. The procedure does not cause pain, and your baby may cry just because we need to hold him or her steady for a fraction of a minute.
The frenotomy done in older children will require the use of a special laser to cut and seal the frenulum and its blood vessels. This procedure is usually done under short general anaesthesia as the child needs to be fully relaxed to stay still and open the mouth for a minute or so.
Written by: Stefano Giuliani
Written on: 03.09.20
Treating tongue-tie: breastfeeding and what to expect from surgery
Tongue tie occurs in approximately in 4 -11% of babies, whilst this is a small nuber, it can cause great concern in parents across the globe. In this article we spoke to top paediatric surgeon, Mr Stefano Giuliani, on how to feed a baby with tongue tie and how it can be treated with surgery.
"Mr Giuliani treated my 6 weeks old Son with great care and sensitivity. It was a relatively minor procedure involving a tongue tie release but as a first-time mother I was particularly apprehensive and nervous. He immediately put us at ease and clearly explained the procedure. He patiently answered the concerns I raised and examined my Son very carefully. We felt extremely well looked after and I would highly recommend Mr Giuliani. His PA was also helpful and friendly, arranging for us to be seen by Mr Giuliani at very short notice."
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