Child therapy: Tongue Tied

Tongue-tied is a fairly common disorder, which in some cases may go unnoticed. Tongue-tied, or Ankyloglossia is when a child’s frenulum (strong cord of tissue under the tongue) is especially tight or fails to recede. If you experienced difficulties with breastfeeding or notice your child has articulation problems, it may be due to Ankyloglossia.

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Eden, Janine, and Jim
What is tongue-tied?
Everyone has a frenulum, but as the child grows older it will weaken and recede further under the tongue. Tongue-tied is a condition when the tongue is restricted causing mobility difficulties. It may affect a child’s feeding and pronunciation of certain consonants. In some cases, the frenulum may take longer to release but eventually the child will not show any symptoms. If the frenulum cannot release on its own, then surgical treatment is encouraged.
Symptoms of feeding
Breastfeeding can be very painful for a mother if her child has tongue-tied. Since the baby has difficulties moving the tongue, they will experience trouble with sucking. The child will struggle to latch onto the nipple or loose suction easily. If the child cannot maintain suction, they can ultimately fail to gain weight. The mother will experience sore or squashed nipples, and/or white compression marks on nipples after breastfeeding.
Symptoms of Speech
Common characteristics of tongue-tied involve a v-shaped notch at the tip of tongue, inability to stick out tongue between teeth, unable to touch roof of mouth and difficulty moving tongue side to side. With lack of tongue mobility, the child will develop articulation errors with tongue tip sounds. For example, the sounds r, sh, th, s, z, n, l, t, and d. The child will still develop language, but it may be harder to understand what they are saying. Many children will learn to compensate making tongue tip sounds by using their teeth or sides of the tongue to create the sound.
Treatment
If the frenulum does not weaken on its own, it is encouraged to receive a frenotomy. Frenotomy is a surgical procedure for tongue-tied that requires the doctor to clip the frenulum to release the tongue. It is a very common surgery that involves local or topical anesthesia and a few stiches. After a frenotomy, the child’s tongue will feel differently and they will need to learn how to strengthen the muscles to form the tongue-tip consonants. Speech therapy is highly encouraged after a frenotomy procedure.
If you feel your child may have tongue-tied, consult your doctor. For speech therapy services after a frenotomy contact Step by Step Care Group.
Resources:
American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 2015 American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 22 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.
Speech Buddies Blog. Copyright Articulate Technologies, Inc. 2015, 16 Mar. 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.

Better Health Channel. Department of Health & Human Services, Apr. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2015.