07 Dec Tongue-Tie: What Parents Should Know & How It Affects Mom & Baby
As parents, we do everything that we can to make sure our infants are comfortable and happy in their new world. We lavish them with attention and care, doing our best to meet their every need. But sometimes there are underlying conditions that we don’t even consider simply because we are not aware of them.
A common but often overlooked condition know “tongue-tie”, can greatly restrict your baby’s tongue’s range of motion. If undetected and untreated, this can affect your infant’s ability to feed, and as they age, the way they eat, speak and swallow. If you are concerned that your newborn may be suffering from tongue-tie, our very own Nurse Practitioner, Blaine Hendrick, can assess your child’s health and perform safe treatment to correct the issue.
Our McAllen primary care team here at Hendrick Wellness Center would also like to provide interested parents with a little bit of information about what tongue-tie is, consequences of it being left untreated, and what we can do to help your child.
What exactly is tongue-tie?
Medically known as ankyloglossia, tongue-tie is the result of having a lingual frenulum (the membrane that connects the tongue to the floor of the mouth) that is too short or too thick. This shortened membrane can lead to your newborn having difficulty with feeding. The condition is hereditary and is fairly common.
Similarly, many babies who suffer from tongue-tie can also have lip-tie. Lip-tie is caused by an unusually tight membrane between the upper lip and gums.
Understandably, these conditions may be cause for concern, but it is worth noting that not every infant (and adult) with a short frenulum will suffer from any health issues. Every case needs to be assessed on an individual basis and our qualified McAllen primary care team at Hendrick Wellness Center can help you to understand whether or not corrective procedures are needed.#TongueTie & #LipTie are fairly common and can be easily fixed at #HendrickWellness #childcare Click To Tweet
Signs to watch out for.
It’s important to always keep in mind that tongue-tie does not necessarily mean issues with health. What is most important is what your child is able – and not able – to do with their tongue. A few key signs to look out for include:
- Difficulty moving the tongue up or from side to side.
- When you gently tug downwards on your baby’s chin, there is trouble sticking out the tongue past the bottom gums.
- Tongue may appear heart-shaped when stuck out.
- Your baby is having trouble feeding (either breastfeeding or with a bottle).
- Prolonged dribbling.
- Older child complains of issues with tongue preventing eating or speaking.
- Membrane that prevents you from lifting up tongue or upper lip towards the nose.
Our highly trained team members can accurately diagnose the need for correction by using the Hazelbaker Assessment Tool (HATLFF). This statistically reliable method will help parents better understand the situation and decide on whether or not treatment should take place.
What are some of the complications that tongue-tie can cause?
Depending on the severity of the case, which can be diagnosed at Hendrick Wellness Center in McAllen, there are a number of potential consequences that can occur if the tongue-tie or lip-tie are left untreated. The complications of this condition can affect infants to adults.
The biggest concern for baby and mom is breastfeeding problems (and feeding problems in general). A tongue-tie makes it difficult for the child to latch onto the mother for feeding. The same issue can arise in bottle feeding and may eliminate baby’s ability to take a pacifier. Tongue-tie can also lead to digestive problems such as colic and reflux. Feeding problems can lead to inadequate nutrition, as well as have an impact on the mother’s milk supply.
If the tongue-tie/lip-tie is severe enough and not adequately treated in infancy, growing children can face a number of issues including but not limited to:
- Speech difficulties
- Difficulty with eating solid foods.
- Issues with dental hygiene and other dental problems.
- Delayed speech development.
- Challenges with oral activities such as playing an instrument.
- Overcompensating speech patterns.
Issues and challenges associated with tongue-tie begin to grow if the condition is acute.
Challenges for Adults
Should tongue-tie persist into adulthood, many of the same challenges that arose during childhood will still affect the individual, only to a greater degree. There are a number of specific issues that an adult may face including but not limited to:
- Affecting eating habits because of inability to properly open mouth.
- Inability to properly articulate and other issues with speech.
- Jaw and mouth pain.
- Dental and oral hygiene health issues.
- Social, emotional, and personal concerns.
- The elderly may have issues keeping dentures in place.
While these more troubling issues are associated with more severe cases, it is best to talk with a medical specialist during infancy to take the proper precautions and procedures if necessary.
Your McAllen primary care team at Hendrick Wellness Center are able to offer you a number of treatment plans and procedures in order to help you and your baby deal with any issues associated with tongue-tie.
One of the systems of treatment that Hendrick Wellness Center is able to provide is known as bodywork. This treatment method involves stretching, massing, and manipulating the tissues surrounding the tongue and around the mouth to improve mobility and latching. Our team will recommend this first when the tongue-tie is mild and the baby is having difficulty with moving the neck, shoulders, or jaw.
Should the case require additional treatment, Hendrick Wellness Center is able to provide frenectomy procedures using the laser method. The process is safe and “seals” the wound quickly, minimizing bleeding and risk of infection. A frenectomy will consist of cutting the shortened tissue to restore proper mobility of the tongue and/or lip.#HendrickWellnessCenter is the only #STX facility that offers both bodywork & frenectomies Click To Tweet
Following the procedure, caretakers will learn and practice the stretching and wound care regimen. This regiment is essential as it will need to be conducted several times per day for a few weeks in order to help the wound heal properly.
After a few hours, your child may become fussy because of soreness in the mouth caused by the procedure. If recommended by your doctor, you can apply a small amount analgesic to numb the area.
It is also recommended that you receive lactation consultation following the procedure as your infant will need to “relearn” how to use their tongue for feeding.
Hendrick Wellness Center is here to help mama and baby deal with any issues related to a tongue-tie condition.
Please contact our McAllen primary care team at 956-630-225 to set up a consultation with Blaine Hendrick at Hendrick Wellness Center.