Updated: Aug 23, 2022
It is estimated that between 4% and 11% of babies are born with a tongue tie or Ankyloglossia. While it's not a fatal condition, it can be limited in many ways, including impacting a baby's ability to breastfeed and long-term airway issues.
In this condition, the tongue is literally “tied,” or tethered, to the floor of the mouth. Lip-ties and cheek-ties are similar conditions, although less prevalent. The tongue is one of the most important muscles involved in swallowing and speech. Without the full range of motion, these activities can be impaired.
In some cases, tongue-tie can be hereditary, running in a family. The condition is also 3-times more prevalent in boys than girls.
HOW TONGUE-TIES CAN IMPACT BREASTFEEDING
Research has shown that a significant number of infants with breastfeeding problems have a tongue-tie. Having a tongue-tie can mean babies aren't able to open their mouths widely enough to breastfeed.
This is why identifying tongue-ties at birth is so critical. During the initial examination, it is important to open the baby's mouth to check for a tongue-tie, lip-tie, and whether or not the baby has a high arched palate.
Here are some of the signs of ineffective sucking to watch for with your baby:
Doesn't wake on his or her own to cue for feedings
Cues to feed fewer than 8 times in a 24-hour period or more than 14 times in a 24-hour period
Latches on and then lets go of the breast repeatedly
Pushes away or resists latch-on
Falls asleep within 5 minutes of latch-on or after sucking for only 2 or 3 minutes
Doesn't suck almost continuously for the first 7 to 10 minutes of a feeding
Nurses on one side for longer than 30 to 40 minutes
Feeds for more than 45 minutes without acting satisfied or full after a meal
Produces fewer than 3 to 4 stools in a 24-hour period
Seems gassy or produces green, frothy stools after the first week
Produces fewer than 6 wet diapers in a 24-hour period
Has trouble taking milk by other feeding methods (such as a bottle)
If you think your baby has tongue-tie, or are worried that he or she isn't feeding properly, get in touch with a breastfeeding counselor, midwife, or health visitor. Getting support early can make all the difference. ~ Jane Moffett, Breastfeeding Counselor
It's common in the first days of life for a baby to have trouble latching on or maintaining sucking at the breast. However, if this problem doesn't go away, more help is needed.
HOW DOES MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY HELP A CHILD WITH A TONGUE OR LIP TIE?
Pediatricians and airway dentists often work in connection with Myofuntional Therapists to treat children with tongue-ties, lip-ties, and other airway limiting oral functions.
Listen to our interview on Airway First with our guest Lauren Ruffrage, SLP to find out more about tongue-ties and the importance of myofunctional therapy as part of your child's overall health program.
Additional episodes myofunctional related episodes of Airway First are also available:
Episode 6: Karese Lagueere - Parent's Guide to Myofunctional Therapy
Episode 8: Autumn Henning - Orofacial Development Throughout the Lifespan