Tongue Tie ( ankyloglossia ) is a congenital aberration in which the tongue does not move freely because the tongue frenulum is too short. The tongue frenulum is a thin tissue beneath the central tongue that connects the tongue with the floor of the mouth. This condition occurs in 4-11% of newborns, and is more common in boys than in females.
Babies with tongue-tie generally have difficulty moving their tongues up or side to side, and can not stick their tongues through the front teeth. Another sign that babies suffer from tongue-tie is the indentation on the tip of the tongue, thus making the tongue look like heart-shaped.
Infants with a tongue-tie condition are difficult to make sucking motions, so repeatedly entering and removing the nipple. The breastfeeding process becomes longer and the baby is not getting enough milk intake. As a result, the baby will always feel hungry and gain weight is difficult.
In mothers whose infants or children develop a tongue-tie condition, the symptoms are usually painful to the nipple during breast-feeding and inflammation of the breast. Consult a doctor if symptoms appear, because tongue-tie is not the only cause of breastfeeding problems.
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Cause of Tongue-tie
Under normal conditions, the tongue frenulum is separated before the baby is born. While in infants with tongue-tie conditions, tongue frenulum remains attached to the base of the mouth.
Not yet clear what caused the condition, but allegedly related to genetic factors. Male infants are known to be three times more likely to have a tongue-tie than a girl.
Before checking the baby's condition for a tongue-tie patient, the doctor will ask the baby's mother if there is any problem in breastfeeding the baby. Then the doctor will perform a physical examination on the baby to see the form of tongue and tongue movement. In children with tongue-tie conditions, the doctor will ask him to move his tongue and say certain letters such as R or L.
Tongue-tie can affect the way of swallowing, eating, and talking, so it can cause complications such as:
- Problems while feeding. Baby with tongue-tie can be difficult in suckling. Instead of sucking, babies even chew on their mother's nipples. This condition in addition to causing pain in the mother's breast, also makes the baby difficult to get breast milk intake. As a result the baby will lack nutrients and difficult to grow.
- Difficulty in speaking. Tongue-tie in children can cause difficulties in speaking certain letters.
- Unhygienic mouth condition. Tongue-tie can also make the tongue difficult to remove food scraps from the teeth. This condition can trigger tooth decay and swelling of the gums.
Treatment is not necessary if infants or children with tongue-tie conditions can eat without any problems. In some cases, doctors will wait and see the development of the condition of the baby because the tongue frenulum can be overwhelming over time.
If necessary, surgical action may be taken. Surgical procedures such as frenotomy or frenuloplasty can be done to treat tongue-tie in infants to adults. In the frenotomy , the doctor will cut the tongue frenulum part to move freely. Surgical procedures take place quickly and can be done with or without anesthetic. Babies can be breastfed immediately after surgery is done. If the tongue's frenulum is too thick, the doctor will run the frenuloplasty action. In this action, the doctor will cut off the tongue frenulum part, and close the wound with stitches that will disappear after the wound healed. Frenuloplasty is performed after the patient is sedated first.